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Glass of its own: Scientists confirm craft beer’s unique molecular make-up

Anyone who really loves beer can talk for hours about the ways in which craft beer is different from mass-market varieties of the amber fluid.

Now, researchers at the University of Queensland have scientifically confirmed that they are right: there is something special about craft beer.

UQ Associate Professor Ben Schulz (left) with PhD researcher Ed Kerr and some experimental material.

UQ Associate Professor Ben Schulz (left) with PhD researcher Ed Kerr and some experimental material.Credit:University of Queensland

Specifically, the team found that craft beer from small breweries had a very different profile of key proteins which determine a beer’s characteristics.

“We’re not saying it’s better than mass produced beer, but it is markedly different, and that was surprising to us,” said UQ Associate Professor Ben Schulz.

Dr Schulz, along with PhD researcher Edward Kerr, bought 23 beer brands available over-the-counter in a Brisbane bottle shop.

They then subjected them to a technique called mass spectrometry proteomics, which allowed them to identify and quantify the proteins which made up all the beers.

They had been expecting to see differences based on the type of beer – lager from one company should look similar to lager from another company, while stouts would be different but have a similar make-up to each other, and so on.

“Instead what we found was that actually the different protein profiles were determined by which company made the beer,” Dr Schulz said.

Beer is one of the most popular drinks worldwide, coming behind only water and tea, and is also one of the most ancient, with archaeological evidence of beer brewing stretching back 13,000 years.

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