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The Bitter Truth about Beer Flavor Development

Posted: March 21, 2014, from the April 2014 issue of P&F magazine.

The difference between tasting and drinking is thinking, said Polly Barrett, director of flavors R&D and applied technology at Kalsec. During her presentation to NAFFS attendees at the Dog & Cask restaurant in New Jersey, Barrett outlined how flavor complexity is achieved in today’s diverse beer market.

Complex Flavor

The character of hops is a crucial element to the flavor of beers, Barrett explained, providing desired bitterness and lingering impression, as well as notes such as woody, grapefruit, linalool and geraniol. This character is a core piece of a flavor matrix of yeastderived (ex: diacetyl, isoamyl acetate and ethyl hexanoate), grain-derived (ex: bitterness and maltiness, smoky, vanilla, chocolate and caramel), off note (butyric, catty, “light-struck,” etc.), mouthfeel (astringency, metallic, tingling, numbing, etc.) and aging (acetaldehyde, papery, almond, etc.) characteristics. Other aromatic components include:

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