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Borșa, A.;  Muntean, M.V.;  Salanță, L.C.;  Tofană, M.;  Socaci, S.A.;  Mudura, E.;  Pop, A.;  Pop, C.R. Artisanal Beers. Encyclopedia. Available online: (accessed on 22 February 2024).
Borșa A,  Muntean MV,  Salanță LC,  Tofană M,  Socaci SA,  Mudura E, et al. Artisanal Beers. Encyclopedia. Available at: Accessed February 22, 2024.
Borșa, Andrei, Mircea Valentin Muntean, Liana Claudia Salanță, Maria Tofană, Sonia Ancuța Socaci, Elena Mudura, Anamaria Pop, Carmen Rodica Pop. "Artisanal Beers" Encyclopedia, (accessed February 22, 2024).
Borșa, A.,  Muntean, M.V.,  Salanță, L.C.,  Tofană, M.,  Socaci, S.A.,  Mudura, E.,  Pop, A., & Pop, C.R. (2022, August 01). Artisanal Beers. In Encyclopedia.
Borșa, Andrei, et al. "Artisanal Beers." Encyclopedia. Web. 01 August, 2022.
Artisanal Beers

Beer is an alcoholic beverage frequently consumed globally. Special beers, known as artisanal, are progressively gaining consumer preference, opening up competition, and acquiring more space in the market.

natural antioxidant non-alcoholic beer low-alcohol beers craft beer

1. Bioactive Compounds and Nutritional Composition

The brewing process starts with malting, when the cereals are germinated under controlled conditions, and continues with mashing, whose final compound is wort, a mixture rich in sugar compounds. Wort is subsequently boiled with hops, resulting in a liquid with a dense foam due to protein precipitation. After it cools to a temperature that is compatible with yeast, it is oxygenated, and the fermentation process begins. The final stage is maturation, where the beer is stored for several weeks and then packed. In industrial settings, between maturation and packaging there is a filtration process; crafted beers are usually unfiltered or ice-cold separation is used [1]. In the production of NABs, dealcoholizing is performed during fermentation by biological methods (modifying yeast fermentation or strains) or physical methods applied after fermentation (thermal or membrane processes) [2].
The high demand for a variety of products encourages beer crafters to produce innovative drinks by maintaining the four ingredients of beer while varying the malted cereals blend, the yeast strains or the hops but also by adding fruit, vegetables, plant extracts or aging the beer in wooden barrels (previously used for wine or spirit aging) to modify beer sensory characteristics. CB masters produce LAB, NAB, and gluten-free craft beer to respond to people’s needs and to make beer appealing to women, teenagers, and people with gluten intolerance [3]. LAB with sodium addition may be suitable for athletes, acting like isotonic drinks, to reduce post-exercise fluid losses [4]. The main difference between craft beers and industrial ones are the varieties of malts, hops, and yeasts used in the production process and batch dimension, which allows crafters to experiment with ingredients with a focus on aromatic notes given by raw materials or original additions [5].
CB consumers are usually young adults (20–39 years) with high–medium incomes, who look for new tastes, and appreciate small, non-industrial breweries and new experiences [6]. Aquilani et al., 2015, investigated consumer preference for CB and the probability of beer drinkers choosing CB was influenced by the beer’s attributes (aroma, foam, carbonation) and their consumption habits. CB was chosen for its selection of flavors (which contributed to a perception of higher quality): malted barley, chestnut, and honey [7]. Merlino et al., 2020, interviewed CB consumers during a beer festival to find out if the packaging (canned or bottled) affects the perception of a set of attributes defining beer quality: alcohol content, aroma, bitterness, body, clarity, color, sweetness, taste intensity, and turbidity. The results revealed that the two groups (traditional bottled beer consumers and innovative canned beer consumers) did not differ significantly regarding sensory preferences and could evaluate and appreciate the unique characteristics of crafted beer [8].
Besides alcohol and sugar content, beer has the potential to provide a significant amount of nutrients such as vitamins and minerals, and is a potential source of vegan B12. It is isotonic and its main ingredients have potential health benefits [9]. Protein and amino acid content are influenced by production processes: lager, ale and wheat beer usually lack protein, whereas other types of beers, regardless of their alcohol content, have a protein content of 0.3–0.6 g/100 mL. Carbohydrates contribute to the energetic value of beers, with NAB having higher concentrations than regular beers (4.5–14 g/100 mL vs. 3.3–4.4 g/100 mL). The addition of fruits increases the concentration of bioactive compounds such as flavonoids, tocopherols, ascorbic acid, and carotenoids, improving beer quality and impact on consumer health [10]. Beer is rich in antioxidant compounds such as phenolic compounds and melanoidins generated mostly by barley and hops varieties used in beer recipes [11].
During the brewing process, phenolic compounds are exposed to qualitative and quantitative changes. At the end of the brewing process, 60% of the phenolic content of malt is lost because of high-temperature pasteurization and filtration in large industrial-produced beer, while craft beer, which is usually unfiltered, has a higher concentration of phenolic compounds. Due to the production processes, NAB and LAB have lower concentrations of phenolic compounds [12]. Silva et al., 2021, identified and quantified phenolic compounds in 14 samples of Brazilian craft beers by HPLC-DAD (high-performance liquid chromatography with diode array detection) with the aim of finding a simple method to analyze beverages or other matrices. Rutin and formononetin were present in all samples; catechin, epicatechin, and caffeic acid presented the highest concentrations, influenced by the addition of coffee, vanilla, or honey in the CB brewing process [13]. Phenolic acids are considered a valuable source of antioxidants and also have a role in the sensory properties, color, and stability of beer flavor and the scavenging activity of free radicals, and their presence in CB, is a benefit for the consumer. Marques et al., 2017, characterized CB and its bioactive compounds, focusing on phenolic compounds. Gallic acid, caffeic acid, ferulic acid, and p-coumaric acid were found in four different types of CB, with caffeic acid showing the highest concentration [14]. Silva et al., 2021, reviewed the potential biological activities of craft beer and concluded that phenolic compounds, with their antioxidant activity, may contribute to a risk reduction of cancer and cardiovascular events if moderately consumed (1 drink/day for women, 2 drinks/day for men). Beer is also a natural source of silicon, contributing to a reduction in neurodegenerative disease development by decreasing aluminum bioavailability and inhibiting bone resorption in postmenopausal women with osteoporosis [15]. Polyphenols, prenylflavonoids, beer color, haze stability, and protein in beer are factors that characterize special beer (CB, Lab, and NAB) quality and stability. Polyphenols contribute to flavor, bitterness, foam, color, and colloidal stability, while prenylflavonoids ensure foam stability and present antioxidant activity, prolonged microbial activity and flavor. Beer color changes during storage as oxidative processes take place. Catechins and epicatechins are involved in haze formation and colloidal stability, but also contribute to bitterness, and amino acids from malt provide free amino nitrogen (FAN) which is responsible for the formation of flavor compounds [16]. Cheiran et al., 2019, evaluated phenolic and nitrogenous compounds found in three types of CB by HPLC−DAD−ESI−MS/MS (high-performance liquid chromatography with a diode array detector coupled to a mass spectrometer by an electrospray ionization source) and identified 57 different phenols (12 newly described in beer) and 11 nitrogenous compounds [17].
Spent hops are a rich source of proteins, polyphenols, and essential oils [18], and could be used in the artisanal beer segment for new flavors and potential health benefits. Spent hop extracts have estrogenic effects by two mechanisms: as aromatase inhibitors that could lower the risk of estrogenic carcinogenesis and as estrogen receptor inhibitors which may help manage menopausal symptoms. Its constituents are involved in detoxification and inflammatory pathways and in cellular apoptosis and also have selective inhibitory activity upon some of the CYP450 enzymes: 1A1, 1A2, 1B1, 2C8, 2C9, and 2C19, which may lead to drug interactions [19]. Yeasts used during the fermentation process may be a source of probiotics. Use of Saccharomyces cerevisiae var. boulardii instead of S. cerevisiae showed increased antioxidant activity, lower alcohol content, similar sensory attributes, and higher yeast stability, resulting in a beer with increased health benefits [20].

2. Sensorial Assessments and Consumers’ Perception

In beer evaluation, different sensory analysis methods are used: difference tests, descriptive tests, ranking tests (such as the nine-point hedonic scale), the free-choice test, the drinkability test, or a mixture of two or more methods. Trained or untrained panelists taste different types of beers under the same conditions and rate it using different ranks or scales to see whether there are differences between samples, whether some characteristics are more intense than others, andwhether it is more drinkable or preferred. Ideal conditions are an ambient temperature (21 °C), glass receptacles to serve the tested beer (which should be cooled to around 4 °C), no additional smells or noises in the room, three digit codification of each sample, and trained panelists who are aware of the beers’ ingredients and can appreciate the raw materials’ contribution to a beer’s taste [21].
During brewing, volatile and phenolic compounds are formed and contribute to the beer’s identity, influencing taste and aroma. Ethyl acetate, ethyl caproate, ethyl caprylate, isoamyl acetate, isobutyl acetate, phenylethyl acetate, and ethyl octanoate are esters that contribute to beer aroma: buttery-like, sour-apple-like, fruity, flowery, etc. Phenolic compounds may add an astringent or bitter flavor and modify the beer sensory profile [22]. Beer aging is a very important step for the final product and chemical reactions such as the Maillard reaction, Strecker degradation of amino acids, and oxidation of unsaturated fatty acids take place and change its sensory profile. Chemical and sensory aging indicators are used to evaluate differences between fresh and aged beer but have the disadvantage of being subjective and generic. Chemometrics analysis manages to solve this disadvantage, correlating several dependent variables with one or more independent variables in a multivariate analysis procedure to better understand beer aging variables and the influences of raw materials, process, and storage conditions on flavor [23]. The most used descriptive test used by beer crafters to identify the flavors and assess their intensity is Quantitative Descriptive Analysis (QDA). Different scales are used and tasters evaluate the presence of a flavor (standardized by the Beer Flavor Wheel) and its intensity on the chosen scale, which is not standardized and may be a source of bias because giving numbers to intensities is subjective [24]. Such a scale is the nine-point hedonic scale which evaluates consumer preference for a product. Trained or untrained potential customers taste the beer specialties and assess on a scale from 1 (dislike extremely) to 9 (like extremely) their preference for some of the aspects of the product (taste, appearance, flavor, etc.).
Preferences among alike products, cross-cultural use, and the multitude of products to be ranked are disadvantages of using this tool. Associating R-index analysis or two-stage ranking based on words, not numbers, could improve the hedonic scale’s statistical significance [25]. Despite the potential problems, the nine-point hedonic scale is largely used by CB or NAB producers for sensory analysis and evaluating the consumer opinion of the product. Tozetto et al., 2019, made a sensorial evaluation of a pilsner-type ginger craft beer with 85 untrained testers using the nine-point hedonic scale for color, taste, aroma, bitterness, and appearance evaluation and a five-point scale for purchase intent assessment [26]. Mazengia et al., 2021, evaluated a lager-type Moringa stenopetala leaf extract (LEMS) crafted beer with 15 well-trained panelists using the nine-point hedonic scale to assess the effect of LEMS and storage time on the color, foam stability, bitterness, mouth feel, aroma, flavor, and overall acceptability of the beer [27]. Ale beer brewed with rice and fruit by-products was sensory evaluated by Sriwichai et al. using 20 volunteer panelists usinga linear scale followed by the nine-point hedonic scale. Odor (malty-like, hop-like, caramel-like, yeasty-like), taste (sourness, sweetness, bitterness), appearance (turbidity), and overall appreciation were assessed. Similar appreciation with a control beer showed that functional beer with improved phenolic content and low-alcohol content can be produced from paddy rice, rice berry powder, banana-peel, and coffee pulp [28]. The addition of rice flakes and soursop pulp to artisanal beer was sensory evaluated on the nine-point hedonic scale; color, bitterness, aroma, taste, and overall impression were assessed by 100 untrained persons and it was concluded that this addition was a viable alternative which was well accepted by tasters [29].
The nine-point hedonic scale is associated with chemometric tools, a multivariate approach to data analysis. Ghasemi-Varnamkhasti et al. evaluated nine aftertaste sensory attributes of seven commercial NABs: bitter, sour, sweet, fruity, licorice, artificial, body, intensity, and duration using. The beers were coded and randomly served to panel members who scored the attributes from 0 to 9 (poor to excellent). The neural network method showed promising results in predicting beer brands, but the radial basis functions (RBS) method showed the best accuracy in beer classification [30]. Medoro et al., 2016, compared the sensory profile of five Italian craft beers from a beer taster expert’s point of view and by sensory methods; 12 judges were trained for the sensory analysis and evaluated 28 beer attributes (odor, visual, gustatory, and textural) while the beer sommelier characterized each beer according to his own experience. The sensory methods were comparable to the description made by the beer expert with the advantage of offering sensory profiles, which could help crafters to target specific segments of the beer market [31].
NAB is usually considered bland and watery compared to alcoholic beer but it is appreciated by consumers who are interested in having a healthy lifestyle. Sensory analysis showed that flavor and aroma contribute to the likeliness of consuming NAB and can represent a starting point for creating innovative NABs [32]. Flavor defects in NAB and LAB are due to eliminating or reducing ethanol content processes in beer production. Volatile compounds such as higher alcohols and esters are lost during ethanol removal or thermal processes and contribute to immature flavor and inharmonious taste. Limited fermentation does not allow carbonyl reduction, resulting in an unpleasant. Bitterness, foam stability, and microbial stability are also negatively affected by alcohol removal [33]. Muller et al., 2021, evaluated 23 types of NAB and made a sensory analysis of flavor characteristics (fruity, aromatic, fragrant, cereal, sweet, malty), fullness, harmony, carbonation, and bitterness and built a specific sensory scheme after identifying the volatile compounds responsible for an NAB’s aromatic profile. Training of the panelists was important to use the sensory analysis as a tool for NAB crafters [34]. In the study conducted by Lafontaine et al., 2020, the chemical and sensory profiles of 42 different NABs were evaluated. The results revealed the preferences of consumers for beers with citrusy, tropical, and stone fruit aromas. Botanical additions can have a significant impact on the resulting aroma and flavor of these products [35].


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