The Loh Down On Science

Stale Beer

Old beer? Fear no more

Hey dudes, can beer get stale?

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science

Saying yes. For those of you who've never kept it around long enough to see--even beer has a shelf life. Brewers have tried for CENTURIES to keep beer from going stale. Chemist Adriana Bravo, who works for a Venezuelan beer company, finally figured out the secret.

Brewing actually COOKS the hops and other ingredients, fermenting them into beer.

But Bravo discovered that one sugar by-product, alpha di-carbonyl, continues reacting to the beer's other ingredients, which gradually upsets the flavor balance. Alpha di-carbonyl CONTINUES cooking beer for days, weeks, even MONTHS after it leaves the brewery.

So Bravo thought, "Hey--why not STOP the cooking!"

She found another chemical, amino-guanidine, which normally halts the breakdown of sugar by-products.

Bravo added it to beer, and no more stale ale! In fact, her beer samples stayed fresh for months.

Amazing news for speculators who trade in beer futures! For the rest of us, not so much. But we appreciate the thought. Adriana, this Bud's for you.


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