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Sensory at Home: Diacetyl

Jul 15, 2013 Comments (0)  | Tags: Education Sensory at Home: Diacetyl

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Sensory analysis is a large part of our quality program at the brewery. One important aspect of this is to make sure all our employees can recognize common off-flavors and aromas in beer. While we use pure versions of these compounds from our lab, many off-flavors are easy to recreate at home!

Diacetyl is one of the most common, if not the most common, off-flavors in beer. It is a byproduct during the fermentation process in which at low levels it can produce an oily mouthfeel while at medium or high levels can produce a buttery taste and aroma, usually compared to that of movie theater popcorn. While it is generally considered an off-flavor in beer it is a major flavor component in some Chardonnays. Fortunately, for those wanting to do some at-home off-flavor training, diacetyl is a fairly common food flavoring. If you want to impress your beer geek friends, invite them over and recreate this at home. Go to your local grocery store and look for a small bottle of fake butter spray (we recommend one that uses "natural butter flavor" and not buttermilk). Open the bottle and add six drops to a 12-ounce beer. If the flavor and aroma are still not obviously apparent, add three more drops at a time until the flavor and aroma are apparent. We train our senses to detect diacetyl so that we can accurately make sure our beer are true-to-brand in every aspect and that we can easily detect when an off-flavor is present. Try this at home with your favorite brew and see if you can notice the difference!

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