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Tracking Fruity Thiols in Hoppy Beers

With the growing increase in popularity of hoppy beers, brewers have been searching for an accurate way to track thiols — the compounds partially responsible for the pleasant fruity aroma. Current methods have typically not been sensitive enough or require the use of potentially harmful substances but now a new automated, solvent-less process to assess thiols at very low concentrations has been proposed.

Thiols, along with other compounds such as terpenes and esters, contribute to the enjoyable odours in hoppy beers and although only small amounts of thiols are present, these small amounts contribute to the hoppy flavour and fruity aroma. Previous studies have reported complex, multi-step methods for thiol analysis in beer, but the approaches could not measure all of the thiols brewers are interested in. Furthermore, some of the processes use harmful mercury-containing compounds.

Dr Nils Rettburg, Head of the Research Institute for Beer and Beverage Analysis, Berlin, Germany, along with his colleagues wanted to modify previous methods and come up with a safer, faster and more sensitive approach.

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1. Johanna Dennenlöhr, Sarah Thörner, and Nils Rettberg, J. Agric. Food Chem. 2020, 68 (50) 15036–15047. (