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Mar 29, 2007 03:18 PM

Beer Chemistry

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.


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    1. 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. 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

          me too. i would love to get some Pliny.

        2. 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

            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

              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.