Brewing Up A Gold Medal Storm
27 November 2001
A young scientist's skill in analysing the flavour of beer has led to a gold medal for a debut New Zealand beer and set the scene for the development of new beers.
Former University of Waikato PhD student Ian Graves carried out a systematic study of New Zealand hops, evaluating them 'from bine to beer' to help hop growers and brewers learn more about the properties of hops and their influence on the amber nectar.
His two-year joint research project for Lion Breweries (NZ), Brewing Research International (UK) and Hort Research, was partly funded by the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology, through its Technology for Industry Fellowships (TIF) scheme.
According to Malcolm Brier, Product Development Manager for Lion Breweries, the research has added a critical component to the understanding of hop flavour and quality.
"Ian's research looked at the whole approach, from the maturity of hops on the bine, harvesting, processing conditions, procedures and storage. A key part of the project was developing the technique to analyse the hop flavours in beer and determine what influence various factors had on flavour - particularly hops variety, amount and addition times.
" It has meant we've developed a broader understanding of how to use different hops for beer flavour variation and the best ways of preserving the hop flavour in packaged beer," he says.
The consumer is the ultimate benefactor, with the likelihood of more distinctive new beer, particularly in the rapidly expanding premium beers market.
Ian Graves' research -which grew out of a 'keen interest in beer' - involved numerous different recipes and test brewing. A particular beer recipe, developed from Ian's hop research, was brewed just once and entered in the 2001 Beer Awards, where the Lion 5 Hop Amber Ale won a Gold Medal in the Brewers' Choice section.
"This showed how much we had learnt about hops and the development of analytical techniques to determine the hop flavour-The results of the research have been incorporated into our overall research and development strategies, and Ian is also now employed by Lion Breweries as a Research and Development Brewer," says Mr Brier
Ian Graves says the job's a pleasure: "from waking up in Riwaka, New Zealand's hop capital on the first day of the hop harvest in 1999 and smelling the pervasive aroma of hops, to sampling a diverse range of hop flavours in beer and using the latest scientific techniques to compliment the traditional art of the brewer."
'bine' = Raw materials