Quinones in Brewing – Definition & Detailed Explanation – Beer Technical Terms Glossary

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I. What are Quinones?

Quinones are a class of organic compounds that are characterized by a six-membered ring structure with two carbonyl groups. They are widely distributed in nature and play important roles in various biological processes. In the context of brewing, quinones are formed during the oxidation of polyphenols, which are compounds found in malt and hops.

II. How do Quinones Impact Brewing?

Quinones can have both positive and negative impacts on the brewing process and the quality of beer. On one hand, quinones can contribute to the flavor and aroma of beer by reacting with other compounds to form complex flavor compounds. On the other hand, quinones can also lead to off-flavors and aromas, such as astringency and bitterness, if present in high concentrations.

III. What are the Sources of Quinones in Brewing?

Quinones are primarily formed during the malting and brewing processes. They are produced when polyphenols in malt and hops are oxidized by enzymes or by exposure to oxygen. Other sources of quinones in brewing include the use of adjuncts, such as fruits and spices, which also contain polyphenols that can be oxidized to form quinones.

IV. How are Quinones Measured in Beer?

Quinones in beer can be measured using various analytical techniques, such as high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) and gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS). These methods allow brewers to quantify the concentration of quinones in beer and monitor changes in their levels during the brewing process.

V. What are the Effects of Quinones on Beer Quality?

The presence of quinones in beer can have a significant impact on its quality. High levels of quinones can lead to off-flavors and aromas, such as astringency, bitterness, and oxidation notes. These off-flavors can detract from the overall flavor profile of the beer and reduce its drinkability. However, in moderate concentrations, quinones can contribute to the complexity and depth of flavor in beer.

VI. How can Quinones be Controlled in Brewing?

There are several ways that brewers can control the formation and concentration of quinones in beer. One approach is to minimize the exposure of malt and hops to oxygen during the brewing process, as oxygen is a key factor in the oxidation of polyphenols to form quinones. Additionally, brewers can use antioxidants, such as sulfur dioxide or ascorbic acid, to inhibit the formation of quinones. Proper storage and handling of ingredients can also help to prevent the formation of quinones in beer. By carefully managing the factors that influence the formation of quinones, brewers can ensure that their beer has a balanced and desirable flavor profile.