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Blinded by Science: Understanding Flavor and Aroma

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July 29, 2016 by fhsteinbart


beer-flavor-wheel

Here we see the updated version of Meilgaard’s flavor wheel. Note the axial alignments shown.

If you’ve followed any of my prior blogs, then you’ll know that I’m big on sensorineural evaluation of beer. So what does that mean you ask? Fair question, as nothing is more subjective than taste, or the lack there of. Basically it’s all about identifying all the perceivable flavors, aromas, and other characteristics of beer with known qualities of other substances. For example, one of the most frequently noticed flavors in beer is that of butterscotch, or diacetyl, a diketone created during fermentation. While it lends to complexity in darker beers, it can be annoying in lighter, more delicate beers. Dr. M. C. Meilgaard from Holland created a flavor wheel that we still use today for aroma and flavor descriptors in beer. While his pioneering work has been updated with more current information, it has yet to be superseded by anything else more detailed and informative than his original research. All you do is work from the center outwards evaluating what aromas and flavors most accurately describe what it is that you are smelling and tasting. Every brewer who wishes to expand their understanding of beer, and brewing should have this tool, and at under $10, it’s a bargain, the best I’ve ever found. If you ever have any questions, feel free to ask any of our highly experienced staff, and we’ll more than happy to answer any and all of your questions!

 

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