Improving the taste of alcohol-free beer with aromas from the regular beer

November 4, 2014, Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology (FECYT)
Some aromatic substances from alcoholic beer can be extracted and added to alcohol-free varieties. Credit: Alexandre Lazaro

Consumers often complain that alcohol-free beer is tasteless, but some of the aromas it is lacking can be carried across from regular beer. Researchers from the University of Valladolid (Spain) have developed the technique and a panel of tasters has confirmed its effectiveness.

The alcohol in beer acts as a solvent for a variety of ; therefore, when it is eliminated, as in non-alcoholic beers, the final product loses aromas and some of its taste. It is difficult to recover these compounds, but researchers from the University of Valladolid have done just this using a pervaporation process.

"This technique consists in using a semipermeable membrane to separate two fractions from alcoholic beer: one in which alcohol is retained, and another gaseous phase, where the aromatic compounds come in," Carlos A. Blanco, one of the authors, explains to SINC. "Then, this gaseous phase can be condensed, the aromatic compounds extracted and added to non-alcoholic beer."

To conduct the study, the scientists used a special beer (with 5.5% alcohol) and another reserve beer (6.5%) from which they extracted three aromatic compounds: ethyl acetate, isoamyl acetate and isobutyl alcohol. They then added these substances to two 'almost' alcohol-free beers on the market: low-alcohol beer (less than 1% ABV) and alcohol-free beer (less than 0.1% ABV).

A panel of experts tasted them. 90% of tasters preferred enriched low-alcohol beer instead of their original factory counterparts, and this percentage rose to 80% for alcohol-free beer. The figures have been published in the Journal of Food Engineering.

"In light of these results, we conclude that the taste is improved, and thus the quality of this 'alcohol-free' beer, as the majority of panellists preferred the beer with aromas to the original," Blanco confirms.

The researchers recognise that this technique cannot yet capture all the and tastes associated with alcoholic beer, but it does show progress in making 'alcohol-free' varieties more palatable for the consumer.

Spain is the primary producer and consumer of alcohol-free beer in the European Union. Around 13% of the sold in this country is alcohol-free, consumption of which has increased in recent years due to driving restrictions and for health reasons.

Explore further: Dark beer has more iron than pale beer

More information: Álvaro del Olmo, Carlos A. Blanco, Laura Palacio, Pedro Prádanos, Antonio Hernández. "Pervaporation methodology for improving alcohol-free beer quality through aroma recovery". Journal of Food Engineering 133: 1–8, 2014.

Related Stories

Dark beer has more iron than pale beer

August 11, 2011

A team of researchers from the University of Valladolid (Spain) has analysed 40 brands of beer, discovering that dark beer has more free iron than pale and non-alcoholic beers. Iron is essential to the human diet, but also ...

Young beer drinkers binge drink more frequently, study finds

August 12, 2013

Just under a third of young Swiss men prefer beer when they drink alcohol, taking in at least two thirds of their alcohol consumption in the form of the beverage. Far fewer (around five percent) prefer wine. Is there an association ...

An electronic tongue can identify brands of beer

January 30, 2014

Spanish researchers have managed to distinguish between different varieties of beer using an electronic tongue. The discovery, published in the journal Food Chemistry, is accurate in almost 82% of cases.

The chemistry of beer and coffee

September 1, 2014

University of Alabama at Birmingham professor Tracy Hamilton, Ph.D., is applying his chemistry expertise to two popular beverages: beer and coffee.

Recommended for you

Biologists' new peptide could fight many cancers

January 16, 2018

MIT biologists have designed a new peptide that can disrupt a key protein that many types of cancers, including some forms of lymphoma, leukemia, and breast cancer, need to survive.

Insulating bricks with microscopic bubbles

January 16, 2018

The better a building is insulated, the less heat is lost in winter—and the less energy is needed to achieve a comfortable room temperature. The Swiss Federal Office of Energy (SFOE) regularly raises the requirements for ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.