Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry vol:55 issue:26 pages:11002-11010
Volatile phenols have long been recognized as important flavor contributors to the aroma of various alcoholic beverages. The two main flavor-active volatile phenols in beer are 4-vinylguaiacol and 4-vinylphenol. They are the decarboxylation products of the precursors ferulic acid and p-coumaric acid, respectively, which are released during the brewing process, mainly from malt. In this study, the variability in the release of free and ester-bound hydroxycinnamic acids from nine malted barley (Hordeum vulgare L.) varieties during wort production was investigated. A large variability between different barley malts and their corresponding worts was observed. Differences were also found between free ferulic acid levels from identical malt varieties originating from different malt houses. During mashing, free hydroxycinnamic acids in wort are both water-extracted and enzymatically released by cinnamoyl esterase activity. Esterase activities clearly differ between different barley malt varieties. Multiple linear regression analysis showed that the release of ferulic acid during mashing did not depend only on the barley malt esterase activity but also on the amount of ester-bound ferulic acid initially present in the wort and on its endoxylanase activity. The study demonstrates the importance of selecting a suitable malt variety as the first means of controlling the final volatile phenol levels in beer.