Esters vs. Phenols in Beer

When perceiving certain aromas of beer, you may hear people refer to “esters” and “phenols.” These terms are often times used incorrectly or interchangeably. The fact of the matter is, esters and phenols are quite different, though they can be present at the same time. Let’s take a look at some of the main causes of esters and phenols in beer.

Esters

The fruity aromas perceivable in beer are typically generated by yeast esters, unless there’s actual fruit in the recipe. During fermentation, a reaction between organic acids present in the wort and the developing alcohol cause esters to form. Common aromatic ester characteristics include banana, pear drop, apple, honey, roses and even solvent-like in some instances.

While the reaction between the acids and alcohol actually form esters, three variables influence the amount of esters that can potentially develop. By understanding and managing these variables, homebrew…

 

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