In collaboration with Dr. Shellhammer’s group, the sensory
lab is researching naturally-occurring compounds which contribute
to the “bitterness qualities” in beer. We are investigating
the effect of hops on the sensory, physical, and chemical properties
of beer. For the sensory component, this includes use of both
consumer and trained panels.
As beer connoisseurs
know, hops give beer its satisfying "bite". But too much of
the “bite” causes an unpleasant pucker-mouth
reaction, while not enough leaves it bland. Sensory lab research
involves evaluating the bitterness “quality” of hops
in beer. It is speculated in the brewing industry, that different
parts of the hops contribute different qualities of bitterness,
but this has never been proven by way of professional trained
panel profiling. Is there a difference in bitterness quality?
Does one part of the hop provide a smooth bitterness and does
another provide the beer with a coarse bitterness? Are there
differences in how the bitterness is perceived? Does one type
of bitterness hit right away and then take a long time to dissipate?
Does another type creep up and then go away suddenly? These are
the types of sensory questions we are interested in.