Sunday, 5 September 2010

Flavour Compound of Last Week - Butyric Acid

Death Vomit, they gave us some classics. I wonder what happened to them after X Factor?

This week sees an unwelcome return of Flavour Compound of the Week. We are looking through the figurative taste microscope at butyric acid (1-Propanecarboxylic acid). Butyric acid smells of vomit. It is also a component aroma in flatus, parmesan cheese and the French. Butyric acid is one of those flavours that seem to be studied in beer and brewing because it is easy to detect rather than becuase it is common place in beer. There are quite a few compounds which you very seldom get in beer but you encounter in flavour screening. When a brewer leaves university s/he has an armoury of knowledge about flavour compounds and their biosynthetic pathways to help troubleshoot beer. Call me a cynic but I can’t imagine that many will ever have to use their knowledge of the production of butyric acid by bacteria from the species Clostridium in sugar syrups. I have been drinking beer for about 20 years now (most of it legally) and I have never smelt sick on a beer. I have smelt beer on sick a few times but never the other way around.


Anyone out there had a sick flavoured beer recently?

3 comments:

Bosola said...

New year's eve 2008 I opened a bottle of stout that all in attendance agreed stank of vomit. Tasted truly wretched. The microbrew responsible shall remain nameless. Funnily, I imagined your West Country White smelling similar when you posted those pictures.

Stuart Howe said...

Interesting Bosola, A vomit-flavoured stout is a significant acheivement. It must have been grossly infected with something unusual to have smelt like that. There was nothing as appealing as vomit notes on the WCW.

Ad Absurdum said...

Butyric acid is certainly a smell to repel beer drinkers despite and due to their vomit being the planet's greatest source.

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