A man enjoying the aroma of his meal in a pan, cooking in his kitchen.

Thinking About Sniffing

A universal truth that keeps popping up in my search of the literature is that nothing is as simple as it seems. A sniff seems just a simple movement of air, but it’s actually way more than that: it’s a psychomotor event. One crucial function is to synchronize the olfactory receptor cells with the olfactory bulb and other smell-related brain regions, especially the primary olfactory processing center, the piriform cortex. This allows different regions to communicate with each other…


Diving Into Beer’s Aroma Pools

Beer is more complex than any other beverage known. No one’s keeping the master list of odor chemicals, but it’s huge. Hops alone contain more than 1000 terpenoids with citrus, floral and other aromas, with many other chemicals, too. In malt, Maillard and other browning processes create hundreds more. Fermentation and subsequent maturation creates a third enormous family of aromas, yet there are more. Add them all up and you get far in excess of the widely quoted number of 600–1000 odor chemicals in wine.

sulphur background

The Elemental Stench of Sulfur

A single element might seem an odd choice as a theme for a beer article, but this one is truly special. Of all the things in the universe our noses are capable of smelling, sulfur compounds are by far the stinkiest. Because of its importance in a host of biochemical processes, quite a few volatile sulfur compounds are found in beer. Many of them are detectable in astonishingly small quantities.