HOME > Chowhound > Beer >
What's your latest food quest? Get great advice

Beer Chemistry

Chinon00 Mar 29, 2007 03:18 PM

What chemical in highly hopped beers provides a bristling and almost alive tactile sensation on the tongue and mouth? It was most prominent for me in Pliny the Younger.


  1. m
    mojoeater Apr 2, 2007 10:48 AM

    OK. Here's the official answer from my brewmaster friend: Naturally occurring iso-alpha acids in hops get isomerized during the boil, which promotes the bitterness/tactile qualities. The beer's 'hoppy' aroma comes from essential oils from the lupulin gland of the hops.

    Each beer is different and flavors come from all sorts of ingredients, but those are the basics in hops chemistry.

    2 Replies
    1. re: mojoeater
      Chinon00 Apr 2, 2007 12:02 PM

      ok so my follow-up question is how healthy are high doses of iso-alpha acids? Are there any positives or negatives (somebody PLEASE say positive).

      1. re: Chinon00
        mojoeater Apr 2, 2007 12:16 PM

        They are natural acids found in many foods. Some scientists have even used reduced iso-alpha acids (RIAA) from hops in research on cardiovascular health. Results have varied. You can probably google to find more answers.

    2. b
      Bobfrmia Mar 30, 2007 09:29 PM

      I have no answer to your question. I just want to express my jealousy that you got to taste Pliny the Younger.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Bobfrmia
        ben61820 Apr 1, 2007 10:42 AM

        me too. i would love to get some Pliny.

      2. g
        gtring Mar 29, 2007 04:48 PM

        I am not a pro brewer, but as I understand, hops have alpha and beta acids. Alpha acids give that bitter taste, with a full texture on the mouth. They also help with preservation. Beta acids give the floral aroma that are found in IPAs, etc.

        Over 200 compounds come from hops, and there are more technical people that could tell you more technical information than I can.

        1. Josh Mar 29, 2007 04:41 PM


          Show Hidden Posts