NMR Analysis to Characterize Beer Profiling

Around the globe, beer is one of the beverages consumed most widely and is very rich in nutrients and biologically active compounds. Although all beers are usually produced from the yeast fermentation of cereal malt in the presence of hops, the combination of spices added and the type of cereal used can have a big effect on the final appearance and flavor of a beer.

In the development of craft beers, this has been taken advantage of as each has a unique character. The craft brewing industry is growing quickly, accounting for 98% of all breweries in the U.S. and having a 24% share of the beer market worldwide.

Among consumers, the vast popularity of craft beers comes from the fact that they encompass a wide range of beers with a variety of tastes and styles. This choice in taste, from amber ales, lagers, and pale ales, through brown and red, to stouts and porters, means that it is likely that the majority of people will find a craft beer to suit their preferences.

On the market, there are hundreds of varieties of craft beer, each determined by the region of origin, its specific combination of ingredients, and brewing technique. Manufacturers take pride in their brand and are extremely protective of their recipes.

When appreciating craft beers, craft beer enthusiasts have also developed a particularly discerning palette. This means that the traceability and authentication of craft beers is a crucial issue for both consumers and beer producers.

There has been an ongoing search for reliable analytical techniques that can be used to identify and discriminate between different craft beers accurately to protect against the marketing of counterfeit products and fraud.

Craft beers

Although a few multinational companies dominate beer production, the last decade has seen a huge growth in the number of artisanal microbreweries.

The craft beers which are created by these establishments are characterized by the utilization of carefully selected raw materials like barley malt, wheat and hop, and local seasonal products, like spices and fruit. A number have also adopted their own creative and traditional brewing technologies.

Due to the large choice of available flavors, a number of habitual beer drinkers have developed a preference for craft beers and often deem them to be of higher quality than similar industrial products1.

As craft beers are typically more expensive, it is vital to be able to confirm the traceability and authenticity of craft beers on the market, to protect both producers and consumers.

Metabolic profiling of beer

A range of different techniques, together with the application of chemometric tools, has been utilized to classify and authenticate beer samples. The methods investigated include chromatography coupled with mass spectrometry2, near-mid infra-red spectroscopy3, and nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (NMR)4,5.

Much promise has been demonstrated by NMR in particular as it can successfully discriminate beers by age6, fermentation process7, and origin4,5.

With the growing evidence for metabolomic profiling of food products supplying a useful tool for establishing quality,  authenticity, and traceability8, an NMR metabolomic analysis has recently been performed to gather metabolic profiles of craft beers to assess this as a means of beer characterization and discrimation9.

Samples of seventeen craft beers and fourteen industrial beers of different style and country of origin were analyzed by 1HNMR using a Bruker AVANCE III 600 MHz NMR spectrometer equipped with a QCI cryogenic probe.

The spectra that were gathered were then studied by utilizing multivariate statistical analysis, following both a targeted and untargeted method. The identification and quantification of metabolites were achieved in approximately thirty seconds per sample using instrument automation.

NMR analysis permitted clear discrimination between industrial and artisanal beers9. The distinguishing metabolites were also identified. Craft beers possessed lower concentrations of adenosine/inosine and trehalose and higher levels of trigonelline, asparagine, acetate, lactate, and succinate when Compared with industrially produced beers.

The spectra gathered were utilized to generate NMR libraries for the Simple Mixture Analysis (SMA) tool to allow faster metabolite characterization of future beer samples.

These data results demonstrate the power of 1H NMR spectroscopy as an analytical tool for the discrimination of beers that come from different production procedures. It is thought that these findings can give a starting point for the development of a standardized protocol for the discrimination of industrial and craft beers.


  1. Aquilani B, et al. Beer choice and consumption determinants when craft beers are tasted: An exploratory study of consumer preferences. Food Quality and Preference 2015;41:214–224.
  2. Gallart-Ayala H, et al. Ultra-high-performance liquid chromatography–high-resolution mass spectrometry based metabolomics as a strategy for beer characterization. Journal of the Institute of Brewing 2016;122(3):430–436.
  3. Biancolillo A, et al. Data-fusion for multiplatform characterization of an italian craft beer aimed at its authentication. Analytica Chimica Acta 2014;820:23–31.
  4. Mannina L, et al. Tracing the origin of beer samples by NMR and chemometrics: Trappist beers as a case study. Electrophoresis 2016;37(20):2710–2719.
  5. da Silva LA, et al. Discrimination of Brazilian lager beer by 1H NMR spectroscopy combined with chemometrics. Food Chemistry 2019;272:488–493.
  6. Rodrigues JA, et al. Probing beer aging chemistry by nuclear magnetic resonance and multivariate analysis. Analytica Chimica Acta 2011;702(2):178–187.
  7. Duarte I, et al. High-resolution nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy and multivariate analysis for the characterization of beer. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 2002;50(9),:2475–2481.
  8. Sobolev AP, et al. Molecular fingerprinting of food authenticity. Current Opinion in Food Science 2017;16:59–66.
  9. Palmioli A, et al.  Metabolomic profiling of beers: Combining 1H NMR spectroscopy and chemometric approaches to discriminate craft and industrial products. Food Chemistry 2020;327:127025. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.foodchem.2020.127025

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Last updated: Nov 23, 2021 at 10:33 AM


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