In a good news for all the beer lovers out there, a simple and low-cost method has been developed by researchers that will let them measure if their beverage has gone stale or is still fresh. The freshness of the beer could be measured using a sensor and a smartphone app. Scientists from the Complutense University of Madrid (CUM) have come up with a method which uses a polymer sensor.
When the polymer sensor detects furfural, a compound that gives aged beer a stale flavour, it changes its colour. The scientists have also created a smartphone app for Android smartphones, which controls the sensor, identifies the amount of furfural present in the beer by analysing a photo of the sensor disc. With this data, the degree of freshness can be determined.
Beer is one of the most widely consumed alcoholic beverages in the world. The flavour of each brand is one of its most relevant quality standards. However, depending on the beer type and its storage conditions, flavour may be altered as a result of changes in the chemical composition produced during beer with a negative effect on the quality of the flavour, researchers said.
Until now, the furfural and other freshness indicators have been measured using methods based on chromatography techniques, researchers said.
“But these methods involve the use of expensive equipment and sample preparation is very time-consuming,” said Elena Benito-Pena from CUM. The new method consists of sensor discs that detect the presence of furfural in beer. These sensors, made from a polymer similar to the one used to manufacture contact lenses, have been designed to change colour (from yellow to pink) when they come into contact with a beer containing furfural.
“We have incorporated an aniline derivative into the sensor material which reacts with the furfural and produces a pink cyanine derivative that allows us to identify the presence of the marker in the sample,” researchers said. “The intensity of the colour increases as the concentration of furfural in the beer rises and, thus, as more time passes since the beer was produced,” they said. The study was published in the journal Analytical Chemistry.
(With inputs from PTI)