Celebration time for beer lovers! Judging the freshness of your beer is now easier and affordable than ever. Chemists at the Complutense University of Madrid have developed a method that allows brewers to measure the freshness of beer, using a polymer sensor that changes colour upon detecting furfural, a compound that appears when this beverage ages and gives it a stale flavour. And the exciting part is that this particular sensor can be controlled by using a smartphone app which was also created by the team. Which may mean STALE BEER NO MORE!
The flavour of each brand is one of its most relevant quality standards. If you ever tried brewing your own beer you’d know that the flavour of the beer changes or alters due to the adverse effects of the storage conditions and also due to the changes in the chemical compositions during the process. In the case of wine, over time the taste and the quality may improve. But when it comes to beer this change in the chemical composition, has a negative impact on its taste and quality of the flavour.
The team of chemists from the Complutense University of Madrid, led by researchers Elena Benito-Peña and María Cruz Moreno-Bondi have managed to develop a simple and low-cost method which can be able to judge the freshness of the beer. The results of this particular research have been published in the journal Analytical Chemistry.
The study is a part of the INNPACTO Project of the Spanish Ministry of Economic Affairs and Competitiveness. The University of Complutense, Madrid, has collaborated with Mahou-San Miguel brewing company.
Furfural which is a compound that appears during the ageing process of the beer, gives it a stale taste. The researchers have said that up until now, the brewers have measured furfural and other freshness indicators using the chromatography techniques. Chromatography technique is the process of separating the different types of chemical mixtures. The biggest drawback of these techniques is that expensive equipment is involved and also the sample preparation is very time-consuming.
The researchers use sensor discs to measure the amount of furfural present in the beer. These sensors are made of the same polymer which is found in contact lenses. Now when these discs come in contact with the furfural, their colour changes from yellow to pink. The chemists have incorporated an aniline derivative into the sensor material which reacts with the furfural produces a pink cyanine derivative that allows them to identify the presence of the marker in the sample. The intensity of the colour increases as the concentration of furfural in the beer rises.
This application is available as open source, meaning that any programmer can utilise and modify it to be used on other platforms. In the future, it will also be available for Apple IOS.