Detecting off-flavors and taints at an early stage of beverage production is key for quality assurance and means more time can be spent reviewing the flavors that should be present. So, it makes commercial sense to go back to the raw materials, the earliest point at which contaminants could be introduced, with the aim of reducing contamination before introducing ingredients to one another.
Water flavor standards
A clean water supply is essential to the production of quality craft beer as it is used in multiple stages during the brewing process and constitutes around 90 percent of the end product. Water is used for mashing, boiling, brewing, filtering and cleaning — every ingredient comes into contact with water, and is affected by it.
To help combat water contaminants, FlavorActiV has developed a comprehensive range of Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) Water Flavor Standards to complement the GMP Beer Flavor Standards to help breweries test for impurities. Flavors from sweet apple to inky chemical will have a detrimental effect on the end product, so being able to detect and remove in advance will save considerable time and money later.
Using Water Flavor Standards, tasters are able to detect biological, physical and chemical contaminations. Take benzaldehyde, which results from bacterial contamination in water supplies and plastic pipe degradation, or ethyl fenchol arising from microorganisms present in the source or added through filtration, or even methanethiol from CO2 sources. Bitter almond, damp soil and drains are the resulting flavors of these contaminants alone, and FlavorActiV is able to train tasters to detect an additional 21 flavors.
Water treatment, although beneficial to the consumer, can play havoc with breweries. Consider trichloroanisole, which results from the methylation of chlorophenol, and as most water supplies are treated with chlorine or chloramines then there is a high risk that the damp cellar taste will seep into the end product. Training breweries to identify these flavors themselves, and remove them from the beer, can lead to significant gains at a time when water costs are soaring and harvests are unpredictable.
Training better tasters
Empowering breweries and beverage producers to hone their tasting and sensory skills will dramatically reduce the risk of off-flavors and complaints. Better trained staff, complemented by validation software and GMP Flavour Standards, can improve the overall taste and consistency of a brand. Most producers will already be running their own tasting panels but having independent, external support that can link all sites and detect and respond to potential problems can make the difference.
In total, FlavorActiV is able to train individuals to detect up to 125 flavors across the range, and thereby assist in detection of problems with raw ingredients (barley, hops, yeast, etc.) plus packaging, piping, sweetening, cleaning and storing issues.
“We are able to go to individual sites and provide a discrete service to complement and improve in-house sensory practices,” said Boris Gadzov, director of global sensory management. “We train panellists in sites in 14 languages, as well as panel leaders at global headquarters. We tailor our products and services according to the partners’ needs, and provide a full-proof and comprehensive system for analysing results. Ultimately, we help create better tasters, and better beers.”