Category Archives: Drinks Research

Kombuchawhaaat? If you have never heard about this beverage, do not be afraid! The pronunciation is easier than it looks and it is tastier than it sounds! Kombucha is a beverage that results from the fermentation of black or green tea leaves and cane sugar with several bacterial and yeast species – a Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast (SCOBY). Kombucha is one of the rising stars in the revival of specialty fermented beverages that has been taking place in the market over the last recent years.

The rise of fermented beverages, both in variety and production volume, has been defined as one of the most important trends in 2019 within the food beverage sector. To give you a more objective picture, the global fermented beverages market is expected to increase steadily until 2023, reaching 935 billion euros (in 2015 it was valued at 600 billion euros). The beverage consumers and the millennials generation in particular have a high interest on experiencing novel and unusual flavors together with different textures and the fermentation process can strongly influence those characteristics.

What makes kombucha unique

But why is Kombucha so special within the large variety of fermented beverages? Kombucha is a low-sugar tea-based fermented beverage with considerable levels of organic acids, vitamins and polyphenols, known for their health benefits. By adding fruit, herbs or flavors into this mixture you get a quite unique and refreshing beverage that is, most often, sparkling and non-/low-alcoholic. Kombucha can have a drier and/or tarter character like the traditional ciders or the “Brett” beers and the production of alcohol can also be boosted by adjusting the fermentation conditions (if alcohol is higher than 4.5% it is referred as Hard Kombucha). The explosion of flavors present in Kombucha can be quite overwhelming in the start due to its high acidity but quite addictive afterwards. The definition of Kombucha is quite broad and there is a great variety of flavors and profiles in the market at the moment, going from soft-drink like beverages with low sugar and high drinkability to more dry and acidic beverages that can be in the direction of sour beers or dry cider.

Tea and sugar are two central ingredients for the production of kombucha

One of the best parts about Kombucha is that you can produce it at home with a very limited amount of kitchen gear, no fancy equipment being needed.

There are several dedicated websites with infographics and videos that can be very helpful before you do your first Kombucha brew, where more detailed explanations about the gear required as well as recipes and how to find and get the SCOBY. In a simplistic way, the production process of kombucha requires two fermentation steps:

  • Primary fermentation:the mixture of yeast and bacterial species converts the sugar into ethanol and organic acids. At the start of the process, oxygen is present (aerobic conditions), which promotes the cell division of the yeast species and later conversion of sugar into ethanol and carbon dioxide (CO2). The type and proportion of yeast species varies from SCOBY to SCOBY but SaccharomycesBrettanomyces, Pichia and Hanseniaspora are some of the most common ones. When sugar is depleted, ethanol becomes the most abundant carbon source, which promotes the activity of the different bacterial species that will convert it into organic acids. Species belonging to the genus AcetobacterGluconobacter and Lactobacillus are the major responsible for the production of acetic acid, gluconic acid and glucuronic acid. Acetic acid, that gives vinegar aroma and taste, is normally the most abundant organic acid when the primary fermentation is finished. At the beginning of the process the SCOBY will be at the top of the flask and during the fermentation it starts to sink, forming a new SCOBY at the top. Thus, at the end of the primary fermentation you will have two SCOBYs that can be used for two new batches of Kombucha.
SCOBY – The Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast that is responsible for the formation of unique flavors and aromas in Kombucha (Image from BUCHI, www.buchi.com.au/)
  • Secondary fermentation: the Kombucha from the primary fermentation is filtered to remove the major particles and then flavored by adding fruit, juices, herbs, spices and/or others. The sugar addition from the flavoring step will promote the anaerobic fermentation of yeast, resulting in the formation of carbon dioxide (CO2) which naturally carbonates the final beverage. When this step is made directly in the bottle – bottle fermentation – it can be tricky since you need to calculate how much CO2 will be produced from the sugar added during flavoring. The first time you may get an over-carbonated beverage with too much fizz.

Even though there are many reports regarding the positive impact of Kombucha on the digestive system and gut health together with its action as anticarcinogenic, antihypertensive, antidiabetic, and hepatoprotective, it is important to note that currently, Kombucha cannot be granted with any official health claims. I believe that in a near future some concrete results from clinical studies will give a more accurate information regarding the active functionalities of Kombucha.

Kombucha flavoring step (image from ifoodreal, https:// ifoodreal.com/)

The Kombucha presence in the European market is still limited when comparing with the United States, where this fermented beverage can be found throughout the whole country. The implementation of Kombucha in Europe requires some more consumer education since it is a beverage with a unique and acquired taste, but it is clear that more and more people are becoming aware of its existence and benefits. Next time you see some Kombucha in a shop or pub, go for it and give it a try! Soon after there is a high chance that you will be planning your first brew of Kombucha at home.

Sources

https://www.globenewswire.com/news-release/2017/04/17/961353/0/en/Global-Fermented-Beverages-Market-2014-2016-2023-Launches-of-New-Products-are-Stimulating-the-Market-Growth.html
https://www.foodnavigator.com/Article/2018/05/04/There-is-a-mega-trend-around-fermentation-The-rising-star-of-fermented-foods
Coton, Monika, et al. “Unraveling microbial ecology of industrial-scale Kombucha fermentations by metabarcoding and culture-based methods.” FEMS microbiology ecology 93.5 (2017).
Professional Kombucha Brewers Workshop, Barcelona (2019).
Jayabalan, Rasu, et al. “A review on kombucha tea—microbiology, composition, fermentation, beneficial effects, toxicity, and tea fungus.” Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety 13.4 (2014): 538-550.
Dutta, Himjyoti, and Sanjib Kr Paul. “Kombucha Drink: Production, Quality, and Safety Aspects.” Production and Management of Beverages. Woodhead Publishing, 2019. 259-288.

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While Portugal is now seeing some signs of Spring with longer and warmer sunny days, Australia is well through Summer and with the 40 plus degree days behind us Autumn is just around the corner. In a wine production country this means that the busiest time of the year has arrived and it is vintage time! For us winemakers the long vintage days are the most exciting time of the year, when we finally get the grapes in the winery and eventually manage to turn them into (good) wine. But it is also one of the most critical stages of the whole winemaking process when the decision of what and when to harvest needs to be taken. In this review we will focus on what happen during the late stage of the grape development (maturation) and its relation with the harvest timing.

I work in the Clare Valley (Australia) mainly with ‘international varieties’, such as Riesling, Pinot Gris, Shiraz or Cabernet Sauvignon, which all grow in the same region and pretty much under the same conditions, but that ripen at different time in the season (in some cases up to 1-2 months apart). By the time that you read this article we should have harvested all our Pinot Gris but the Cabernet will be hanging on the vines for a few more weeks, so how do we decide what and when to pick?

The biological cycle of the grapevine is a set of physiological and biochemical changes triggered by temperature, sun exposure, hormones, water availability, etc, that starts early in the Spring with bud burst and finishes late in the Autumn with leaves fall, just before the vine goes through a period of dormancy during Winter.

What happens during each stage of the grapevine life cycle can potentially influence the quality of the wine, but it is the late stage of the berry development or maturation (ripening) that deserves more attention from a winemaking point of view.

Maturation is a growth phase that lasts from 35 to 55 days that follows the herbaceous growth and véraison and is characterized by some of the most noticeable changes in the grapes: pronounced berry growth, sugar accumulation, decrease of acidity/raise of pH and accumulation/changes in phenolic compounds and aromatic. We are able to look at these changes and use that information as a precious tool to predict maturity dates and establish the picking dates.

In the ripening stage the berries accumulate sugar and lower their organic acid concentration, with dramatic changes in the profile of the phenolic compounds and aromatics.

Sugars

The sugar content of the grapes is an important physiological parameter to access maturity and harvest timing as it defines the potential alcohol of the wine. During the herbaceous growth its concentration is similar to the leaves, but from véraison onwards there is a massive transport and accumulation of these carbohydrates in the berries. The sugar synthesis occurs in the leaves as a product of photosynthesis and migrates to the berries in the form of sucrose where it is hydrolyzed to glucose and fructose. The last two are the main sugars in grapes and as the season progresses their concentration gets to a point where they become the predominant total soluble solids in the juice, reason why sugar accumulation/ripening traceability is often based on density measurements (density, Baumé or Oechsle). It is not commonly used, but the glucose/fructose ratio can be a maturity indicative as it markedly decreases during the grape development until it remains almost constant at maturity (about 1:1).

White grapes generally ripen at lower sugar levels than red grapes and consequently the alcohol content of white wines is lower than reds once fermentation is completed by yeast (conversion rate of approximately 17g/L of glucose/fructose for 1% alcohol).

Acids and pH

Tartaric and malic acid are the two major acids present in grapes and responsible for the biggest fraction of the total acidity. The tartaric is rapidly accumulated in the berries during the herbaceous growth and remains almost constant during maturation; on the other hand, malic acid concentration declines during the ripening period and the ratio tartaric/malic varies drastically. The rate as the malic acid is metabolized depends on the variety and climate, but it is one of the main reasons why cool climate regions tend to deliver fruit with higher total acidity comparing to warmer regions. As the total acidity drops and some cations accumulate in the berries, the pH raises. The pH plays a crucial role in the microbiological and chemical stability of juice and wine it is also taken into account. At maturity the pH of white grapes is normally under 3.3 and 3.6 for the reds, and the total acidity between 5.0-8.0g/L of tartaric acid equivalents.

If you add a few drops of vinegar or lemon juice to your salads (acidification), this seasoning will make it taste better. The same could be thought for the importance of the acidity in wine. When in the balance, the acidity is the backbone of the wine, bringing brightness and freshness and lifting up other flavors.

Phenolic compounds and aromatic substances

The synthesis and accumulation of anthocyanins in the skins is the most visible expression of grape maturation in red grapes; behind the scenes, another phenols play a crucial role on the phenolic ripeness: the tannins. Tannins are present both in the skin and seeds and as season progresses they become less extractable and less astringent, more ‘round’ and pleasant. A potential good wine starts with a good assessment of the phenolic ripeness of the grapes, as it impacts the structure, mouthfeel, astringency, aromatics and ageing potential of the wine.

It is also during the maturation stage that the aromatic potential of the grapes develops and accumulates, mainly in the skins. These molecules can be free volatile aromatic compounds or non-aromatic precursors that will later be released by yeast during fermentation. Sometimes it may be hard to access the aromatic potential of the grapes at a given time, but we know how it can change during maturation. A good base wine for sparkling is produced with grapes harvested earlier in the season, not only to retain a higher natural acidity/low alcohol, but also because the aromatic profile is more neutral. Riesling or Touriga Nacional harvested later in the season originate wines with more floral expression.

Generalized graphical representation of grape berry compositional changes during development and ripening (from Watson, 2003)

The maturity point of the grapes is directly related to the style of the finished wine and can potentially limit its quality. Monitoring the parameters mentioned above as the grapes ripening progresses is a fundamental procedure to define a desired maturity point and decide the harvest date. Variety, soil, vineyard practices and growing conditions all influence the life cycle of the grapevine, so defining an exact maturation point is in reality difficult and quite subjective. However, if we can get the maturation to a point where all the parameters are in balance to a desired style then we are potentially in a good position to make a good wine!

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Energetic drinks are, without a question, one of the hottest topics in the food industry right now. However, in a time where a considerable fraction of the population shows stress symptoms, energy drinks might not be the answer your customer is looking for.

A relaxation drink is defined as a non-alcoholic beverage that contains calming ingredients. These drinks are growing in popularity and rely on the use of nutrients and herbs to reduce anxiety and promote relaxation. Sleeping drinks are also a growing trend in consumption, relying on slightly different natural components to induce the consumer a sensation of sleepiness and promoting a longer and more relaxed sleeping. Both types of drinks act by regulating a complex hormonal response in the consumer.

Stress, anxiety and sleep

Stress and anxiety are two major factors affecting the population. Stress is a condition arising from external physical or mental overload. It can make a person feel embattled, nervous, anxious or otherwise less capable of full and normal response to environmental demands.
Anxiety is a generalized mood of fear, worry and or uneasiness. It can be stimulated from environment factors, or result from bad habits or social situations. In developed countries, anxiety disorder rates range from 13.6% to 28.8% of the population. [1] The growing
urbanization, lack of exercise and stressful quotidian are bringing stress and anxiety to historical levels. Anxiety and stress may lead to insomnia, depression or even suicide.

Sleep plays a vital role in brain function and systemic physiology across many body systems. Problems with sleep are widely prevalent and include deficits in quantity and quality of sleep; sleep problems that impact the continuity of sleep are collectively referred to as sleep
disruptions. Disruption of sleep is widespread.

A 2014 survey conducted by the National Sleep Foundation reported that 35% of American adults rated their sleep quality as “poor” or “only fair”.

Trouble falling asleep at least one night per week was reported by 45% of respondents. In addition, 53% of respondents had trouble staying asleep on at least one night of the previous week, and 23% of respondents had trouble staying asleep on five or more nights. [2]

The hormonal regulation and possible ingredients for relaxation and improved sleep

Adaptogens are herbs that improve an individual’s ability to cope with stress and anxiety. These herbs normalize the physiological process of the body and help the body adapt to changes in times of increased stress, normally by reducing the serum cortisol levels, the stress hormone. A recent study discovered that Ashwagandha root extract safely improves an individual’s resistance towards stress and improves self-assessed quality of life by substantially lowering cortisol levels. [3] Other herbs, such as linden, hops or chamomille are also considered to be adaptogens in this regard. Chamomile is widely regarded as a mild tranquillizer and sleep inducer. Sedative effects may be due to the flavonoid apigenin that binds to benzodiazepine receptors in the brain. Studies in preclinical models have shown anticonvulsant and central
nervous system (CNS) depressant effects respectively. Clinical trials are notable for their absence, although 10 cardiac patients are reported to have immediately fallen into a deep sleep lasting for 90 minutes after drinking chamomile tea. [4]

According to American researchers [1], there are different types of anxiety that could be mild or sever depending on the level of the disorders. Using drugs is a common but harsh way to treat anxiety disorders. More natural treatments including amino acid, minerals, and fatty acids
ingestion can reduce anxiety and induce relaxation. Further, herbs and botanical medicine, such as St. John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum), Ginkgo biloba, Kava Kava, which have different roles to reduce many psychiatric disorders, also reduce anxiety.

In this regard, anxiety may be managed without the harsh side effects of pharmaceuticals using nutritional and botanical treatment as well as life-style changes.

Vitamins C, D, and E, omega-3 fatty acids, and the green tea amino acid L-theanine are dietary supplements known to increase the production of dopamine. Japanese researchers have found that the ingestion of 50 to 200mg of theanine promotes the generation of α-wavesin the brain some minutes after being ingested. α-waves have been studied as a relaxation index state in humans [5]. Theanine also lowers body temperature and blood pressure, two important factors in the relaxation process absent from drowsiness.

Drugs that alter serotonin levels are used in treating depression, generalized anxiety disorder and social phobia. Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) prevent the breakdown of monoamine neurotransmitters (including serotonin), increasing concentrations of the
neurotransmitter in the brain and promoting a sensation of relaxation and happiness. MAOI’s may be synthesized or natural. Herbs, spices and nutrients can inhibit MAO enzymes without the unpleasant side effects of antidepressants, examples being the nutmeg extract, the
passionflower, curcumin or black pepper extract. [6]

Herbs, spices and nutrients can inhibit MAO enzymes without the unpleasant side effects of antidepressants.

The sleep-wake cycle and its modulation

Both dopamine and serotonin play a non straightforward role in mammals’sleep-wake cycle and wakefulness/relaxation sensations. Dopamine can inhibit norepinephrine, causing the subject to feel more alert. Serotonin is involved in wakefulness, sleep onset, and preventing REM sleep.

Serotonin is required to produce melatonin, a hormone that plays a major role in sleep. The production and release of melatonin in the brain is connected to the time of day, increasing when it’s dark and decreasing when it’s light. Melatonin production declines with age.
Consumers use melatonin for sleep disorders, such as insomnia and jet lag. Unlike with many sleep medications, it does not promote dependency, habituation or experience a hangover effect. It is available as an ingredient for food and drink fortification. Melatonin can be used to treat delayed sleep phase and circadian rhythm sleep disorders in the blind and provide some insomnia relief. Valerian root extract is also a major sleep promoter, safely administered in food and pill forms.

Further, supplementation with the amino acid L-tryptophan and its precursor, 5-HTP, and the B vitamins, vitamin D, selenium, and omega-3 fats increases serotonin production. Tryptophan may increase agreeableness, decrease quarrelsomeness and improve mood. Although purified tryptophan increases brain serotonin, foods containing tryptophan do not. This is because tryptophan is transported into the brain by a transport system that is active towards all the large neutral amino acids and tryptophan is the least abundant amino acid in protein. α-Lactalbumin, a minor constituent of milk, is one protein that contains relatively more tryptophan than most proteins, and milk brands are taking advantage of this situation to incorrectly claim that milk promotes a better sleep through tryptophan ingestion.

α-Lactalbumin, a minor constituent of milk, is a protein that contains relatively more tryptophan than most proteins, and milk brands are taking advantage of this situation to incorrectly claim that milk promotes a better sleep through tryptophan ingestion.

Gamma-aminobutryric acid (GABA) is a major chemical signalling molecule in the process of relaxation/sleepiness and is becoming a trendy ingredient in the food industry. A randomized, single-blind, placebo-controlled crossover-designed study was conducted to evaluate the effect of GABA on sleep. Sleep was evaluated by electroencephalography (EEG) after oral GABA administration. GABA significantly shortened sleep latency and increased the total non-rapid eye movement (non-REM) sleep time. Questionnaires showed that subjects receiving GABA realized its effects on sleep. [7] Dietary GABA supplement in clinical studies relieves anxiety and increases alpha brain waves, which are associated with relaxation.

The bottom line

The sensation of relaxation and sleeping promotion are interconnected. However, some ingredients, whether natural or synthetic, may be more adequate for a specific application, and regulatory laws may soon be imposed in incipient markets. In a further piece we will explore how regulatory laws may be applied to this sector and the market size for this type of innovative drinks.

CFER Labs is your partner in food and drinks R&D. Obtain your free of charge workplan by clicking here.

Sources

[1] E. Alramadhan, M. S. Hanna, M. S. Hanna, T. G. Goldstein, S. M. Avila, and B. S. Weeks, “Dietary and botanical anxiolytics,” Med. Sci. Monit., vol. 18, no. 4, p. RA40-RA48, 2012.
[2] G. Medic, M. Wille, and M. E. H. Hemels, “Short- and long-term health consequences of sleep disruption,” Nat. Sci. Sleep, vol. 9, pp. 151–161, 2017.
[3] and S. A. K. Chandrasekhar, Jyoti Kapoor, “A Prospective, Randomized Double-Blind,  Placebo-Controlled Study of Safety and Efficacy of a High-Concentration Full-Spectrum Extract of Ashwagandha Root in Reducing Stress and Anxiety in Adults,” Indian J.
Psychol. Med., vol. 34, no. 3, pp. 255–262, 2012.
[4] J. M. Hodgson and K. D. Croft, Tea flavonoids and cardiovascular health, vol. 31, no. 6. 2010.
[5] D. C. Chu, T. Okubo, Y. Nagato, and H. Yokogoshi, “L-theanine – A unique amino acid of green tea and its relaxation effect in humans,” Trends Food Sci. Technol., vol. 10, no. 6–7, pp. 199–204, 1999.
[6] R. Article, “Available online through www.jpronline.info Natural Monoamine oxidase inhibitors : A Review,” vol. 3, no. 3, pp. 482–485, 2010.
[7] A. Y. Y. P. M. Kim, “Effect of oral γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) administration on sleep and its absorption in humans,” Food Sci. Biotechnol., vol. 25, no. 2, pp. 547–551, 2016.

 

Tea can be consumed in different ways. The most popular one worldwide continues to be the infusion of the dried leaves, however, solid tea consumption is growing remarkably, especially due to the new matcha (powdered tea) consumption trend. Actually, tea was firstly consumed as a whole leaf instead of simply as an infusion. The leaves were not strained and tossed as we do now, and this allowed the consumers to take advantege of all of the nutricional aspects of the tea leaf, both the water soluble and the insoluble ones.

We might say that we are still in the leaf infusion Era and regarding this matter many questions usually arise. Which one is the best? To use loose leaf or tea bags?

Both have advantages and disadvantages.

Comparing tea quality

Generally loose leaf tea is of better quality than tea sold in tea bags, especially reagarding cheap tea bags, which contain mostly tea dust and tea fannings resulting from the tea leafs processing. However, there are many good quality tea bags which use either tea sourced from cut loose tea leasf instead of the byproducts of the tea industry and some top quality brands that even sell tea bags containing full tea leaves. I usually advise loose leaf tea for heavier tea drinkers as the tea sold in this fashion is hermetically sealed until use, unlike tea bags which can lose flavour and absorb smells very easily.

A common habit, even at speciality stores, is to open the tea container and give it to the client to smell. This is not hygienic at all and should be avoided. In this regard hermetically sealed tea bags can better preserve their flavour than frequently opened tea containers. If you can afford good quality tight containers or are a rather heavy consumer of loose leaf tea this shouldn’t however pose as big as a problem.

An advantage of brewing loose leaf tea is that you can see the beauty of the leafs unfold in hot water, admire how they look like before and after brewing and how they smell. You can also play with the amount of tea you wish to brew making it lighter or stonger. When using tea bags you can play with the flavour only by modulating either the water temperature or the infusion time.

When brewing loose leaf it implies you to have more specialized tea paraphernalia and time. Usually people more inclined to loose leaf teas invest more time in tea education and look for the perfect cup.

Tea bags are normally of a lower quality when comparing to loose, hermetically sealed tea.

Regarding tea bags a lot of debate has been made about the type of tea bag. Many advocate that the pyramidal tea bags are the best as they allow more room for the leaves to expand. While some say this is more of a marketing stategy, there are a few scientific reports regarding the loose leaf vs. tea bag “battle”. A recent study compared single, double and circular tea bags with loose leaf tea. What was found was that indeed leaf swealling is higher for loose leaf, followed by double chamber tea bags, single tea bags and circular tea bags. In another study, researchers found that, althought the kinetics of goodies, i.e., polyphenol content had a faster release time in tea leafs, and independent of infusion time, when adressing tea bags, the polyphenol content was dependent on the infusion time, probably due to the swelling rates verified by the comparing research group. At the end of the day, it all boils down to tea quality.

Would you rather have low quality loose leaf tea or good quality bagged tea? Common sense is always the key? What is you way of brewing tea?

CFER Labs is your partner in food and drinks R&D. Obtain your free of charge workplan by clicking here.

Sources

J Food Sci Technol. 2017 Jul;54(8):2474-2484. doi: 10.1007/s13197-017-2690-9. Epub 2017 May 18. “Swelling and infusion of tea in tea bags.”
Avicenna J Phytomed. 2016 May-Jun;6(3):313-21. “Effect of different brewing times on antioxidant activity and polyphenol content of loosely packed and bagged black teas (Camellia sinensis L.).”

Take a few minutes to search in yeast commercial suppliers catalogs and you will quickly find out the large number of different strains that are available for brewing beer and other beverages. Brewing yeast species were initially isolated from nature and later also domesticated in different parts of the world under different environments, which resulted in a variety of yeast strains with great physiological differences. The invention of the microscope had a key role on the initial identification and characterization of the different strains. Nowadays, the continuous development of microbiological and genetic tools along with new analytical techniques has contributed to a deeper understanding of the specific capabilities and limitations of each strain, as well as for the identification of novel yeast types.

Every year the number of fully characterized yeast strains increases and there are a few companies with culture banks that have a great variety of yeast strains: White Labs, WYEAST, Fermentis, Lallemand, Mangrove Jack’s, Imperial Yeast (organic) or CooLAB (organic), among others. In each website, you can find descriptions of each strain that will help you choosing the right strain for the intended beer type.

Start simple

If you are in doubt, start simple and brew with a yeast type which is a “work horse”, meaning that it will efficiently work for a great variety of beer styles. Still, there are some factors important to consider when choosing the yeast for alcoholic fermentation:

Attenuation – how much sugar can the yeast convert into alcohol. Usually, commercial suppliers divide the yeast strains in low, medium and high attenuation, varying from approximately 65 to 85%. The specific attenuation will impact not only the alcohol % but also the mouthfeel and flavor;

Flocculation level – how easy does the yeast cells settle after fermentation. This is an important feature when you wish to re-use the yeast to another fermentation. Besides that, a low flocculation yeast can lead to a lower attenuation, resulting in a worty flavor. On the other hand, if your yeast of choice has a high flocculation, the final beer will tend to be cloudier and you will be able to taste the yeast, like in weißbier or witbier;

Alcohol tolerance – alcohol level that inhibits and potentially kills your fermenting yeast. Choosing a strain that can stand the alcohol percentage you are planning to reach is extremely important, especially in those styles that require a high alcohol % such as Imperial Stout or Belgium Ale;

Temperature – each strain has a range of temperatures where it can grow, and it is important to know both the optimal and the extreme temperatures that the yeast can stand;

Metabolite production and sensoric properties – what kind of flavors and aromas are produced by the yeast strain. There are several metabolites (intermediates or final products of yeast metabolism) that can contribute to the sensoric properties of the finished beer: esters, carbonyl compounds, phenolics, higher “fusel” alcohols and fatty acids:

  • Esters are the resulting compounds from a reaction between an acid and an alcohol, and they are often associated with fruity notes in beer (e.g. ethyl acetate or isoamyl acetate). The specific types of esters formed, as well as their concentration, are strain-specific but the fermentation conditions also influence the ability of the yeast strain to produce them.  For instance, there are reports that high gravity brewing and high fermentation temperatures (20-25oC) result in higher levels of esters (as in some ale beer types).
  • More than 200 compounds with a carbonyl functional group have been found in beer, contributing for both its flavor and stability. Diacetyl and acetaldehyde are examples of carbonyl metabolites and probably the most “unwanted” compounds by brewers (except in some very specific beers), since they are considered off-flavors. Both the formation and conversion rates of those metabolites is strain-dependent, so the time that you will need to get a matured beer will depend on your yeast of choice. This is particularly important in large-scale production where time is a key control parameter.
  • Phenols are commonly associated with a medicinal or spicy aroma, and some specific types add astringency and/or bitterness in the finished beer. For instance, the earthy aroma present in Brett beers (fermented with Brettanomyces yeast) is directly linked to the formation of phenolic compounds.
  • When present in abundant levels, higher fusel alcohols, such as propanol and butanol, can result in fruity, floral and/or wine-like notes. Their formation can have a positive impact in ale beers but normally are not desired in ale types.
  • Fatty acids are essential elements in the yeast central metabolism, but they can also be broken down into staling compounds such as (E)-2-nonenal, which will give a “cardboard” character in the finished beer.
The presence of fermentation derived metabolites brings complexity to the final product, but in some specific cases they can also easily become overwhelming and give off-flavors.

In addition to the points mentioned above, when brewing at large-scale breweries there a few other parameters to consider when choosing the right yeast: stress tolerance, fermentation yield and productivity, mutation stability, among others. These are especially important for the re-usage of yeast in several fermentation cycles, which is a must in large-scale breweries to sustain the economical viability of the production process.

The number of identified and characterized yeast strains will increase more and more over the next years. I personally believe that some unique flavor profiles are yet to be found, and that will consequently expand the range of beer styles. If you are already brewing, what are your favorite yeast strains and how did you choose them? Tell us your yeastperiences in the comments below.

CFER Labs is your partner in food and drinks R&D. Obtain your free of charge workplan by clicking here.

Sources

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1002/jib.49 
https://www.esa.org/esablog/research/spontaneous-fermentation-the-role-of-microorganisms-in-beer/http://www.wyeastlab.com/fermentation
https://www.nature.com/scitable/topicpage/yeast-fermentation-and-the-making-of-beer-14372813
https://www.whitelabs.com/
https://www.grainfather.com/blog/week-60-choosing-a-yeast-strain-for-your-beer/
http://www.equippedbrewer.com/equipment-and-supplies/how-to-choose-the-right-yeast-for-your-craft-beverage
https://beerandbrewing.com/how-to-choose-a-yeast-strain/
http://scottjanish.com/esters-and-fusel-alcohols/

 

The beverage industry is pushing forward at a quick pace and top developments in the field during 2019 should still be oriented for the rise of natural, functional and sustainable drinks; however, consumers are seeking increased value chain transparency and beverage personalization. Discover below some of the top tendencies for 2019 within the drinks business.

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Healthy energy drinks with alternative sources of energy

Energy drinks are one of the fastest growing products in the global drinks market. This growth has been brought by an escalating evident consumer focus on fitness and health. In 2017, the global energy drinks market stood at USD 55 billion and is projected to grow at a CAGR of 3.7% during the forecasted period of 2018-2023, according to figures from Mordor Intelligence. The biggest oportunities for market growth lie in the European continent and in Asia-Pacific region, respectively due to a scarce offer of healthy, zero-calorie, low sugar functional drinks in Europe and increasing income, rising sports activities and urbanization in the Asia-Pacific region.

The caffeine presence in energy drinks is raising moderate levels of concern. As a result, manufacturers may wish to gradually replace caffeine by naturally energetic plant extracts in new launches for 2019, such as green coffee extract or matcha.

The caffeine presence in energy drinks may gradually be replaced by naturally energetic plant extracts in new launches for 2019.

Hyper functional drinks with ethnic and regional ingredients

According to Beverage Daily, consumers are increasingly willing to seek super ingredients in their drinks, such as goji, aloe vera, turmeric, functional spices or matcha, traditionally used as regional ethnic ingredients with known health benefits. Other ingredients, such as microalgae and mushroom extract are also gaining relevance. Consumers will look for convenient, hyper functional drinks during 2019 as part of a beverage industry gradually mixed with the vitamin and supplement industry.

New launches will reflect consumer demand for overall wellness goals, as improved sleep, cognitive function, beauty, weight loss and gut health, being expectable that new products will address deeper health issues as oral and cardiovascular health.

Consumers are increasingly willing to seek super ingredients in their drinks, such as goji, aloe vera, turmeric, functional spices or matcha.

Plant based beverages

More and more people are introducing plant-based products in their diet for health and sustainability claims. Plant based product claims have grown 62% globally from 2013 to 2017, according to figures from NDP Group. The plant-based eating and drinking movement has been promoted by celebrities, athletes, multinational retailers, food and tech companies and countries such as China. There has been a 600% increase in people identifying as vegans in the U.S in the last three years, according to a survey from GlobalData, and 350% in the UK comparing to ten years ago. According to Nielsen, vegetarianism in Portugal rose by 400% in the last decade.

In 2019 there should be a rise in the offer of plant based drinks, such as vegetable milks and drinks from soy, almond, coconut and oats, plant-based protein drinks and also exotically-flavoured malted beverages.

Almond drink leads the category of vegetable milks along with soy and coconut.

Sustainable beverages

Sustainability is growing steadily to be one of the top concerns of consumers in 2019. This is mainly related to plastic unsustainability due to recent environmental scandals and the origin and trade of ingredients. Data from Nielsen and Mintel indicates that consumers are willing to pay more for products that make claims on sustainability, while Imbibe Magazine states that consumers are using the social media to share messages about the responsibility of the purchase. Eco-friendly packaged beverages and the use of internationally certified fair-trade ingredients should become more prevalent in 2019.

Concerns regarding the origin and trade of the ingredients are becoming more prevalent among consumers.

Clean label and simple communication

Consumers are demanding clean labels and a simple communication on their products to know what exactly they consume and at what level, and national government agencies are supporting this interest. In 2019 this trend should continue to gain momentum.

The soft drinks market has witnessed in recent years the biggest percentage of clean label product introduction in Asia, the fastest growth rate region for clean label products. Within the clean label segment, natural colours are witnessing high demand due to organic and functional claims.

According to figures from Mordor Intelligence, 88% of consumers are willing to pay a premium price for products containing naturally sourced ingredients, and close to 80% of the consumers give importance to reading ingredient lists on the product before purchasing.

The trend for clean label beverages will predictably continue to grow during 2019.

CFER Labs is your partner in drinks R&D. Obtain your free of charge workplan by clicking here.

Sources
https://www.mordorintelligence.com/industry-reports/energy-drinks-market
https://www.mordorintelligence.com/industry-reports/clean-label-ingredients-market
HTTPS://WWW.BEVERAGEDAILY.COM/ARTICLE/2018/12/05/TOP-FIVE-PREDICTIONS-FOR-2019-BEVERAGE-TRENDS
https://foodrevolution.org/blog/vegan-statistics-global/

 

Sensory analysis is a science. No matter how subjective it may be, sensory analysis represents a decisive step during the various stages of food product development, a unique tool for determination of organoleptic properties of food and, more specifically, beer. Being a science, sensory analysis requires care in planning and diligence in execution. Sensory tests must comply with very specific standards, in particular through the establishment of certain ideal conditions to perform the experiments.

The sensory analysis of beer focuses on the beverage’s appearance, aroma, flavour and palate, and is regarded as an important quality control method for the development of new products.

The ideal conditions for the sensory experiment

Regarding the place where the tests are conducted, both temperature and humidity must be constant and easily controllable. In general, a temperature of 20 ± 2 ° C and relative humidity between 60% and 70% is recommended. The place should be free of external noises, well ventilated and free of odors. Also it should be coated with a material that is easy to clean, odor-free and that does not absorb odors. Therefore, carpets, wall paper, porous tiles, etc. should be avoided.

The colour of the test site and equipment must be neutral (white or light gray) so as not to influence the evaluation of the beer. Lighting is also a crucial factor, especially when evaluating the appearance. The lighting of the test room should be uniform, shade-free and controllable. Lamps with a color temperature of approximately 6500K are recommended. When tasting, one should avoid evaluating beers within two hours after lunch. The best time to conduct this type of tests is between 10:00 p.m. and lunchtime, or later in the afternoon, although this may vary from taster to taster, depending on their biological rhythm.

The ideal moment for the tasting is when the taster is more awake and his mental abilities are at their maximum.

How the surroundings may affect the sensory perception

The way we perceive a beer depends on many factors, mainly appearance, aroma (odor/fragrance), flavour (taste, aromatics, chemical feelings) and palate. These can be influenced by physiological and psychological aspects which may be decisive for a correct analysis of a beer. There are numerous factors that can lead to an erroneous assessment of a sample. Let’s look at some common examples:
  1. Group effect – when a good beer is put in a group of mediocre beers, the rating will be lower (and vice-versa);

  2. Central tendency error – tasters tend to rate the beers in the center of the scale, avoiding very high or very low scores;

  3. Expectation error – if you are told you will be drinking a Westvleteren XII, the expectations about the sample will be very high. To avoid preconceived ideas, details about the sample should be minimal;

  4. Mutual suggestion – happens when a reaction of a person influences the perception of the other;

  5. Lack of motivation – some testers might be uninterested and in consequence put less effort on the experiment.

Many other psychological constraints may influence the development of a sensory analysis experience. But in addition to these, there are other factors that may impact sensory evaluation of beer. For instance, the serving temperature, the glass, the serving order, cultural factors or mental fatigue. Even adaptation might be a problem, through the decrease in sensitivity to a given aroma or flavour due to continued exposure. Or, of course, if the panelist is ill, is a smoker, just drank coffee or had a heavy meal.Unfortunately, in Portugal there has been no academic tradition associated with this discipline. Sensory analysis is mostly regarded as a curiosity amongst consumers, even though the industry considers these methods highly beneficial, cost-effective and easy to apply for large or small businesses. It provides objective and subjective feedback data to enable informed decisions to be made. The growth of the craft beer industry worldwide, the importance of understanding a product characteristics and the identification of consumers preferences has helped to bring new attention to this science in many countries. Hopefully the same will happen in Portugal.

Cider’s history in the New World is a series of events that twist and turn with the rapid expansion and tumultuous social changes that have shaped American history. While relatively unknown to the modern American consumer, cider was the drink of choice for the first several centuries of European settlement in the original thirteen and Canadian colonies and earliest frontiers.

The beginning of cider

The history of cider in the United States begins with the most American of holidays, Thanksgiving. When the Pilgrims arrived in Plymouth Bay Colony in 1620, they found themselves in a strange and unforgiving land and completely out of ale. Anyone who has experienced a Massachusetts ice or snow storm can imagine the sadness of an imminent winter without proper food, shelter, or drink to keep spirits and bodies warm through the harsh New England winter. Even though nearly half the colony died in the first winter, human creativity flourished, and the first year saw them making ‘beer’ with pumpkins, parsnips, and corn stalks. This was not evidently a big hit, and with a lack of barley or grapes for traditional beer and wine, cider quickly became the Plymouth colony favorite drink.
The absence of barley and grapes, used for Old World traditional alcoholic drinks, encouraged cider’s popularity in the new settlements.
There has been some debate over whether native wild apples existed prior to English colonization or whether they were left by explorers and fisherman along the New England coast who had arrived and been conducting business on the coast up to a hundred years prior to the Pilgrims landing. Either way, grafts and seedling apple trees from England quickly made the transatlantic voyage with the early settlers and spread across New England and the Mid-Atlantic seaboard.
George Washington invited the entire delegation out for pints of cider the night before the 1761 election, and swept the election the following day.

Forty miles to the north of Plymouth Plantation, a man by the name of William Blackstone settled himself on a small island called Shawmut. He arrived alone and began homesteading until the arrival of John Winthrop and his group of Puritans arrived and settled across the river from him. Blackstone planted the first known orchard in the United States on Shawmut Island on a ‘Beacon Hill.’ Today Beacon Hill and Shawmut island would be scarcely recognizable, as Beacon Hill is now the most exclusive neighborhood in Boston, lined with 18th century townhomes.

Shawmut is now the heart of the Boston financial district, filled with historical sites, such as the Boston Massacre site and Fanueil Hall. Blackstone has largely been forgotten for his role in Boston history, overridden by the Puritan settlers who began flooding Massachusetts Bay Colony in the mid-1600s, but his trees began to spread by seedlings and grafts across the colony. Cider quickly became the most popular drink of Massachusetts and New England due to the Puritan aversion to harder alcohols and inability to source much else for.

William Blackstone planted the first USA orchard in Shawmut island, Boston, presently located in the heart of the city’s financial district.

The importance of cider in the political life of the USA

Over the next 150 years, orchards and cider presses sprung up from Quebec to Virginia to fuel the desire for cider. By the time of the American Revolution, cider was an entrenched facet of American culture. George Washington launched his political career in the colonial Virginia House of Burgesses and lost his first election in 1755. Learning from his mistakes, he invited the entire delegation out for pints of cider the night before the 1761 election, and swept the election the following day. Thomas Jefferson touted the superiority of American varietals and ciders as the equals of the best of Champagnes and grew some unique varieties such as the Talliaferro and Esopus Spitzenburg, as well as the well known Newtown Pippin. In Paris, he wrote back home to his friend, “They have no apple to compare with our Newtown Pippin.”John Adams recommended ‘cyder’ to be aged at least two or three years, touting it a salubrious beverage well suited to keep a person in good health. His wife Abigail Adams managed the farm during his politicking years and their African American servant James was the cider master for the household. By the dawn of the United States in 1776, cider was close to peaking in popularity and consumption in the New World. Orchards grew at the forefront of the new American attempts to conquer the frontier as the young nation grew and pushed further into the continent.

A conversation where bacteria and fungi are mentioned usually triggers a red alert in our head since they are associated with some mean diseases. However, when we look back in history, the activity of yeast and bacteria were essential for our lifestyle, being the major responsible for many tasty foods and beverages that were and still are part of our culture.

Imagine a world without bread, beer, wine, cider, coffee, mushrooms, pickles…it would be for sure less interesting! It is estimated that there are one trillion different species of microorganisms on Earth, which shows the tremendous variety of bacterial and yeast species.

Beer fermentation is the process where the sugars coming from the malt are converted into alcohol and carbon dioxide by the activity of yeast and in the absence of oxygen. Traditionally, beer fermenting yeasts can be divided in two types: ale and lager.

 

The pre-activation of yeast, where multiplication and yeast mass increase takes place, is a fundamental step for an healthy alcoholic fermentation of wort

Ale yeast

In the old times they were defined as top-fermenting yeasts since their cells would be collected from the top of the fermentation vessel. The most relevant yeast is Saccharomyces cerevisiae (also called brewer’s and baker’s yeast) and it requires fermentation temperatures around 18ºC – 22ºC (64ºF – 72ºF). In comparison to a traditional pale lager, ale beers usually display a fuller body and more intense fermentation-derived flavors. In some cases, there will be a more dry and crispy character, which can give an unique combination to that beer.

In my opinion, the versatility of ale yeast is a strong advantage when comparing to the lager, which makes it possible to use for a large variety of beer styles: amber ale, brown ale, stout, porter and, one of my favorites, Indian pale ale. The traditional wheat beers from Germany (Weißbier) and Belgium (witbier) fall also in the ale category, where specific ale yeast types that give that nice banana and herbal aromas are chosen!

Lager yeast

The most common lager yeast is Saccharomyces pastorianus, which is a hybrid of two Saccharomyces strains. This means that its general characteristics are like those of the ale yeast but the optimal conditions for fermentation and the resulting beer will be different. Lager yeasts were defined as bottom-fermenting organisms because the cells were collected from the bottom of the tanks after fermentation. However, that distinction does not make sense in the current processes where conical vessels are used and both yeast types are collected from the bottom. Thus, lager yeast is currently associated with “cold fermentation” since it is done at temperatures between 7ºC – 15ºC (45ºF – 59ºF). This temperature slows down the metabolism of yeast which results in longer fermentation times.

Due to their lengthy fermentation and lagering period, the fermentation-derived flavors will not be as evident as in the ale types. The combination of malt and hops is the greatest contributor to the aroma complexity we can find in some lager beers such as the Dunkel Bock or the Saaz-seasoned Czech Lagers. Lager beer is the world’s most sold type of beer, being a fresh golden tone drink ideal to refresh the beer lovers like us.

Sour beers

In the recent years there has been a trend of intense flavors and aromas in beer, with high levels of bitterness but also acidity and sourness. The sour beers, where the lambic type is included, are made by spontaneous fermentation. This means that there is no controlled addition of yeast under sterile conditions, but you make usage of the natural yeast and bacteria present in the surroundings instead. In the old times, Belgium beers were all made in this spontaneous manner and it would take a few years to have a relatively stable beer production.

Among several types of bacteria and yeast, Lactobacillus, Pediococcus and Brettanomyces are the most relevant organisms for this kind of beer, producing acidity and giving that sour, dry and tart profile like sometimes you find in wine. Currently, it is possible to make this kind of sour beers in a more controlled way and you can even buy blends of these bacteria and yeast to produce a sour beer at home.

The variety of yeast and bacterial strains will increase more and more in the next years and many craft brewers are isolating their own blends of yeast and bacterial strains, which can give unique flavors and expand the range of beer styles. If you are already brewing, what are your favorite yeast strains and how did you choose them? Tell us your yeastperiences in the comments below.

Sources

Adipose tissue is a vital connective tissue for all mammals. Its main role is to store energy in the form of lipids while insulating the body. It also contains a variety of crucial cells that act on the body’s immune and structural functions. Obesity is a medical condition defined by an excess of body fat. This disease increases the chances of developing conditions such as cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes, cancer or depression,  decreasing the individual’s quality of life. Obesity is one of the leading preventable causes of death worldwide, mainly promoted by the intake of high-energy foods and low energy expenditure.

Thermogenic molecules

Some specific ingredients might contribute for one’s weight management goals with no need for extra energy expenditure or change in sedentary lifestyle. Foods such as chilli peppers, white and black pepper, ginger and cinnamon have in their composition capsaicin-like molecules, respectively piperine, gingerol and cinnamaldehyde.

Researchers found that the consumption of these food products promote the release of sympathetic-nerve mediated norepinephrine, naturally activating the brown adipose tissue thermogenesis by up-regulating the action of the uncoupling protein 1 in the mitochondria (UCP1) (Saito et. al. 2015). The UCP1 dissipates energy by oxidizing fatty acids and glucose to heat. Other ingredients, such as green tea or wasabi, also contribute to the up regulation of this protein.

Thermogenic and anti-obesity effects of capsacin-like food molecules, mediated by the release of sympathetic-nerve norepinephrine. This mechanism triggers the brown adipose tissue thermogenesis by up-regulating the action of the uncoupling protein 1 (UCP1) in the mitochondria. in Saito et. al. 2015

The consumption of these foods and spices might not always be possible in the desired concentration by consumers with weight issues. To overcome this limitation, companies may explore the potential of a new generation of anti-obesity, naturally thermogenic food products. It has been shown that the oral ingestion of capsules with capsinoids, substances naturally present in chili peppers, increases the energy expenditure mediated by the thermogenesis located in the brown adipose tissue (Yoneshiro et. al. 2012). Edible plant and spice extracts, naturally clean-label, mostly calorie free and widely available, may thus be the shining stars of a new generation of functional products for weight management issues, proven to be their safety in the public food and health system.


Sources
  • Yoneshiro, T. et al. (2012) Non pungent capsaicin analogs (capsinoids) increase energy expenditure through the activation of brown adipose tissue in humans. Am. J.Clin.Nutr. 95, 845–850 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22378725