Scientists have found out why beer smells and tastes so good.
It’s all to do with beer yeasts which mimic the smell of fruits in order to attract flies which can transport the yeast cells to new niches.
The volatile compounds are also essential for the flavour of beer and wine.
Researcher Kevin Verstrepen says two seemingly unrelated species, yeasts and flies, have developed an intricate symbiosis based on smell.
“The flies can feed on the yeasts, and the yeasts benefit from the movement of the flies,” he says.
But recent research shows that the choice of a yeast strain or variety explains differences in taste between different beers and wines.
“In fact, yeasts may even be responsible for much of the ‘terroir’, the connection between a particular growing area and wine flavour, which previously often was attributed to differences in the soil,” says Verstrepen.
Yeast is essential in production of bread, beer and wine and humans have been using it for thousands of years.
It works like this: the microbes eat sugars and convert them into carbon dioxide gas and alcohol.
In bread, the gas causes leavening of the dough while the alcohol evaporates during baking.
In beer and sparkling wines, both the alcohol and carbon dioxide gas are retained. In wine the gas is allowed to escape.
However, yeast cells also produce several aroma which are key to the taste, flavour and quality of beer and wine.
The study is published in the journal Cell Reports.
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