How maturation time affects the chemical and sensory profile of pale lager beer
Keywords:beer maturation, sensory quality, volatile compounds, essential oils, fatty acids, pale lager
The maturation of beer is an important production step with an impact on its quality. Changes in the chemical and sensory profile between 2 and 6 weeks of cold maturation were evaluated in pilot brews (200 l) of a pale lager of 11% and 15% original gravity. In addition to the basic analytical parameters and shelf life, volatiles, hop essential oils, fatty acids, amino acids and stale flavour aldehydes were monitored. The sensory quality of the beers was evaluated using descriptive method. The dynamics of changes in the monitored groups of analytes during maturation of the tested variants was different, but without substantial influence on the overall impression and shelf life of the beer. Under the experimental conditions, it was possible to reduce the maturation time of a common Czech-style lager to 2 weeks of cold lagering. The gradual slight improvement in the overall impression of beers brewed at original gravity indicates the need for a long maturation period to fine-tune the sensory profile of premium lagers. A short maturation period of 2 weeks appears to be beneficial for beers brewed using a high gravity brewing protocol. The findings obtained can be a useful guide for optimising the maturation of Czech-style lager in practice, although the dynamics of changes in the monitored substances and their influence on the sensory characteristics of the beer may be to some degree different when scaled up to operational practice.
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