Tag: hops

What Gives Beer its Bitterness & Flavour?

Infographic on the chemistry of beer. The top of the graphic identifies the major stages of beer brewing: milling, mashing, brewing, cooling, fermenting, and maturing. The rest of the graphic identifies four key components of beer flavour: alpha acids, beta acids, essential oils and esters. Alpha acids degrade during brewing and form iso-alpha acids, which contribute bitterness. Humulone is the main alpha acid in the majority of hops. Beta acids also originate from hops and add a harsher bitterness than alpha acids. Essential oils contribute the majority of hop flavour and aroma, and there are over 250 found in hops. Esters form during the reaction of alcohol with organic acids, and give fruity flavours.
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There are few things better than an ice-cold beer on a hot day. Chances are, when you crack open a beer this summer, you probably won’t be thinking much about chemistry – but it’s the particular chemicals in beer, produced in the brewing process, that give beer both its bitterness and flavour. It’s a real chemical team effort, with several important chemical families, each contributing something different but vital to the eventual taste of the beer.

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