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Fingerprinting Enhances Beer Flavor

Fingerprinting Enhances Beer Flavor

Hops and barley

Process Engineering

International food & beverage companies generally want their brands to consistently taste the same. However, natural variations in ingredients can make this difficult, even without factoring in the impact of variations in process equipment and conditions.

Key to achieving consistent flavor is ultimately down to manufacturing products that share the same chemical profile, believes Reading Scientific Services Ltd (RSSL), an independent testing laboratory that carries out various analysis on foods and ingredients. Lose one of the main flavor compounds during the process, it says, and the product will just not taste the same.

RSSL flavor chemistry laboratories investigate the root causes behind taints and off-flavors, identifying the chemicals causing the bad taste, and helping processors to correct the problems.

Often it is poor practice during maintenance or lack of proper control during production that leads to chemical contamination of food products, noted RSSL, citing a recent project for a major brewery that wanted help in understanding what was going right in its best production plants in order to replicate best practice elsewhere.

Using the highly sensitive analytical technique of gas chromatography mass spectrometry (GC-MS), RSSL produced “flavour- fingerprints” of several beer products provided by the client, which had been produced from a variety of locations around the world.

Following this work, sensory experts provided their verdict on the product beer that tasted best, and the chemists at RSSL were able to identify and quantify all of the compounds that combined to create the best flavor. The chemists were also able to identify chemicals in the other beers that were either absent or present, and ultimately responsible for flavors that were less preferred on consumption.

Using RSSL’s data and guidance, the client was able to implement modifications to process conditions and recipes, which ultimately achieved the ambition of greater consistency.

According to an RSSL spokesman, food is just one example of a complicated matrix, with starting ingredients that already contain a vast array of chemical and structural components. This makes the analytical challenge that much greater, since there is always potential for cross-reactivity, inhibition and interference when products are so chemically complex.

RSSL also works for clients in the pharma, cosmetics and chemical industries, again helping to troubleshoot contamination incidents and address process problems, added the spokesman. However, he noted, the quality of the starting materials in these industries is a little easier to control and the overall chemical mix is a little less complicated than is the case with food and drink.

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