Friday 19 March 2010

Flavour Compound of the Week – Isovaleric Acid

I was fresh out of university working at a brewery whose name has been deleted to protect the innocent and they were launching a new Pilsner for their pub estate. Lots of money was spent on new bar fonts and a launch party. A few days before the launch the beer was racked into kegs and the production staff assembled to taste the shiny new beer.

The beer looked impressive, glimmering pale straw with a good pilsner head. On smelling the beer I was instantly taken back to my college bedroom and the unmistakable honk of Matt Allcock’s trainers. I assumed that I had caught a whiff of the barrel washer's feet and went in for another sniff. Whack! There is was again, Allcock’s trainers.

Standing only feet from the Head Brewer and only being the brewery oily rag I didn’t ask anyone else if they could smell cheese and had a couple of sips of what aside from the Stilton was a sound Pilsner before leaving the tasting to cleanse my palate. After the tasting I was discussing the beer with some of the other operators and they spoke of a similar experience.

It turned out that the hops in the new beer were anything but new and had been festering in the top of the brewhouse for 18 months. What we were all smelling was of course isovaleric acid (3-methylbutanoic acid), the cheesy hop aroma. Isovaleric is also a major cause of smelly feet.

The Pilsner was not a major success


Jamie said...


ZakAvery said...

A case of no Allcock and balls.

Stuart Howe said...

"This is cheese. I've got cheese."
Unfortunately for Matt he was neither especially well-endowed nor overly brave. He did go on to be a first class gas fitter though.

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