Researchers have found out why beer smells and tastes so good.
It’s all to do with beer yeasts which mimic the smell of fruits in order to attract flies which can transport the yeast cells to new niches.
As well as converting sugars into alcohol and carbon dioxide, yeast cells also produce several aroma compounds that are key for the taste, flavour and overall quality of beer.
A new collaborative study led by scientists from VIB life sciences research institute based in Flanders, Belgium, Neuro-Electronics Research Flanders (NERF) and the University of Leuven, shows that the fruity volatiles produced by yeast cells are also highly appealing to fruit flies.
This attraction allows some yeast cells to hitch a ride with the insects, who carry the otherwise immobile microbes to new food sources.
The team believes their findings have far-reaching implications.
Emre Yaksi, of NERF, the neuroscientist who led the experiments, said: “Knowing that esters make beer taste good, it seems that the same flavours that allow us to enjoy our beer, probably evolved to attract flies and to help yeast disperse into broader ecosystems.”
Luis Franco, also of NERF, said: “There’s a lot to be learnt about the mutualism between insects and microbes, and some of what we find may have implications in agriculture and medicine.
“Don’t forget that insects also carry disease-causing microbes.”