A longer-lasting brew

Blocking the Maillard reaction could be key to extending the shelf-life of light beers and lagers, according to scientists in Venezuela. Adriana Bravo and colleagues at the Empresas Polar brewery and colleagues at the Simón Bolívar University in Caracas explain that previously brewers assumed the Maillard browning reaction between amino acids and reducing sugars was unimportant to beer production after the initial heating steps. However, Bravo's team has now shown that degradation products of the reaction continue to accumulate in beer even as it sits on the shelf, at far lower temperatures than those used during brewing. The team identified alpha-dicarbonyl intermediates of the Maillard reaction at between 20 and 30 Celsius using NMR spectroscopy and mass spectrometry. The team has experimented with various inhibitors of this process, although they are yet to find one that is non-toxic.