Miguel Roncoroni (1), Kevin Verstrepen (1); (1) KU Leuven, Leuven, Belgium


With well over 1,000 different beers encompassing around 20 styles, many of which exist nowhere else, the Belgian beer microcosm is unique in its rich diversity. This diversity of styles can be daunting to the uninitiated beer drinker. This project set out to chart the first “map” of Belgian beers. Our objective was to generate a resource that would help understand the differences and similarities between Belgian beer styles in an objective way. To achieve this we have chemically and sensorially analyzed over 200 Belgian beers. The sample is representative of all Belgian beer styles available in the market. We quantified a large number of relevant beer attributes (e.g., bitterness, carbonation, protein content), fermentation-derived volatiles (esters, higher alcohols) and common beer faults (4VG, diacetyl, sulfur off-flavors). Additionally, the beers were assessed by an in-house trained sensory panel. Principal component analysis and hierarchical clustering were used to analyze the data. Results show that certain beer styles have unique chemical signatures. For example, pilsner beers are characterized by high levels of sulfur dioxide and relatively low levels of volatile compounds, while strong Belgian ales have high levels of esters and alcohols. Other beer styles, like blondes and tripels, have a significant overlap in attributes and are not so easily distinguished from each other. The data set is the first of its kind. It represents a valuable resource for both consumers and producers, since it allows simple and unbiased comparison between different Belgian beers and beer styles for a large number of beer aspects.

Miguel Roncoroni is originally from Argentina. After earning his B.S. degree from the Rochester Institute of Technology, Miguel turned to yeast research. He completed M.S. and PhD. degrees at the University of Auckland, New Zealand. There he worked on yeast genetics and QTL mapping for wine fermentation traits. In between research, he has worked in laboratories for the pharmaceutical and wine industries. He currently is working as a postdoc in Prof. Verstrepen’s lab in Leuven, Belgium, where he carries out both fundamental and applied work on yeast and beer.