The Role of Analytical Chemistry in the Brewing Industry

Food science is vital in today’s society. Basic research allows manufacturers to better understand ingredients and how they interact, while product development allows them to enhance their range or introduce novel products. Both require analytical techniques to characterize properties, such as flavor and shelf-life, to determine the role of each ingredient, and to study how processing and storage conditions affect properties. A whole host of food industries rely on analytical science, ranging from producers of meat, seafood, dairy products, oils, cereals, and confectionery, to beverages like beer, wine, and juices.


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Manufacturers must comply with voluntary and mandatory standards concerning food composition, quality, and inspection, and label their products with nutritional information. Analytical techniques also must be able to reliably detect even low levels of contaminants such as bacteria and pesticides. Research is also focusing on developing methods to detect allergens in food and drink.

Quality control is another area where food manufacturers require analytical techniques so they can produce food and beverages with the same properties, no matter when or where they are made. Analytical science allows them to monitor properties and control variations in processing. By also analyzing raw materials, it is often possible to predict their subsequent behavior during processing so that conditions can be altered to produce the desired properties.

To meet the changing demands of consumers, manufacturers often turn to food scientists to develop novel products and improve existing ones. Analytical techniques are also needed to test the authenticity of specific food components as there are many past examples where manufacturers have made false claims about their products. Food fraud is challenging to detect and scientists are working to develop more effective chemical methods.

This article outlines the research to be presented at Pittcon about the importance of food science and recent trends. It will also discuss how analytical chemistry has impacted food science and continues to affect its growth. A range of analytical techniques will be considered in detail. Developing these technologies to make them even more efficient and more effective will help manufacturers respond to changing consumer trends and maintain the highest standards of safety and consistency. Pittcon will illustrate how researchers are working towards these goals and showcase the very latest advances in technology development.

The article has a particular focus on beer and brewing. The brewing industry is a thriving sector, which has seen the resurgence of small craft brewers as well as the global expansion of multinational companies. As beer is a complex mix of many constituents, it is a challenge for brewers to produce consistent products that will last over time. Chemical reactions can affect the beer’s taste, tendency to foam, smell, appearance and whether it is safe to consume. The brewer needs to understand and control these reactions to prevent unwanted characteristics in the final beer.

Analytical Chemistry and the Beer Industry at Pittcon

At Pittcon, speakers will describe how analytical chemistry and brewing science have evolved together, allowing the industry to develop and flourish. Technological developments have ensured that modern beer-making is tightly controlled, leading to more consistent, higher quality and safer beer. A symposium at Pittcon entitled Analytical Chemistry of Beer and Brewing will present recent developments in analytical chemistry methods to study beer ingredients, the brewing process and the evaluation of beers. Speakers will explain how analytical techniques have provided brewers with an extensive tool-kit allowing them to develop and design new beers, monitor all stages of the brewing process, ensure consistency and detect issues such as infection. One important area of research and development is the study of hop compounds, which affect a whole range of beer properties such as taste and aroma. These include essential oils, ‘bittering’ acids, and polyphenolic compounds which have also been linked to health benefits.

The range of analytical methods used for beer analysis and brewing monitoring is large. These include spectrophotometry, mass spectroscopy coupled to liquid or gas chromatography, high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC), Raman spectroscopy, infrared spectroscopy and nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy. Pittcon will discuss the applications of these techniques, for example looking at how HPLC can be used to specifically determine the quantities of hop acids, as well as phenolic compounds. It will also consider the drivers for future developments in analytical science, such as making processes more environmentally friendly and producing novel beer styles and flavors.

A host of presentations and exhibits at Pittcon will provide insight into the vital role analytical chemistry plays in the brewing industry. Several market-leading providers of analytical equipment, products, and services tailored specifically to the brewing industry will be on-site at Pittcon and available to discuss the latest additions to their capabilities. Companies include Thermo-Fisher Scientific, TOFWERK, Agilent, Specac, Shimadzu, Bruker, Horbia, Advion, Horbia, Zeiss and Knauer.

About Pittcon

Pittcon® is a registered trademark of The Pittsburgh Conference on Analytical Chemistry and Applied Spectroscopy, a Pennsylvania non-profit organization. Co-sponsored by the Spectroscopy Society of Pittsburgh and the Society for Analytical Chemists of Pittsburgh, Pittcon is the premier annual conference and exposition on laboratory science.

Proceeds from Pittcon fund science education and outreach at all levels, kindergarten through adult. Pittcon donates more than a million dollars a year to provide financial and administrative support for various science outreach activities including science equipment grants, research grants, scholarships and internships for students, awards to teachers and professors, and grants to public science centers, libraries and museums.

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Last updated: Feb 1, 2024 at 7:16 AM


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