Beer is an alcoholic beverage manufactured with raw materials. It is the oldest, vastly consumed kind of alcohol and the most well-known drink apart from coffee, tea, and water.
From the early barley beverages fermented in the Fertile Crescent 1000’s years ago to the incredible styles brewed recently, beer has maintained its rate as one of the most popular produced and consumed drinks across human history.
There is dark larger, brown Ale, Pale larger, Indian pale Ale, Stout, Belgian Style Ale, wheat beer, etc.
Hence, beers smell and taste according to the ingredients or flavors it’s made of.
Have you ever tasted some brands of beer and wondered why they taste like bananas?
Well, you are not alone in this, as a lot of people consider this banana flavor in beer as off-flavor too, and for this reason, we thought it could be a good idea for you to understand what causes this banana flavor in beer.
In this post, you will learn why your beer tastes like banana, whether it has any side effects on your health, and how to avoid it. Just read on as you learn all.
What Causes Banana Tastes In Beers?
A lot of people think of alcohol and carbon dioxide as the only products of the fermentation process in beer, but there are some other compounds produced during this highly intense process, including various alcohol molecules and acids.
However, it is these molecules that combine to form what is called Isoamyl Acetate ‘Ester’.
An ester is present in all beer to some extent, although depending on the strain of the quantity of yeast used, the temperature of the fermentation, and some other things.
An “Ester” is caused by a combination of a chemical reaction during the time of fermentation or by the condensation of Isoamyl alcohol and the acetyl CoA.
Esters are compounds mainly found in fruits such as pears, roses, bananas, etc.
These esters may sometimes produce a heavy, solvent-like flavor that is distasteful.
It’s generally present in all brands of beers but this taste of bananas may appear obvious in some beers like Bavarian Weissbier, and hefeweizen due to the quantity or a large number of esters present in them.
Hence, according to beer and brewing magazine – the taste you get when taking some beers is caused by the presence of an organic compound known as Isoamyl Acetate – An ester.
Having known exactly what causes your beer to taste like a banana, now let’s learn how this taste got there in the first place.
How Does the Banana Taste Occur in Beers?
Well, the fermentation of beer takes a long and detailed process that depends on different variables to obtain the desired result.
In most cases, off-flavors that develop in your beer may be a result of something going wrong during the fermentation phase.
It could be from the amount of yeast, the temperature of fermentation, or it could be something else.
The process of making beer has been industrialized and facilitated over the past years, but beer is still made with the same ingredients, flavors, and processes used decades ago.
Beer is mainly made from four ingredients: Yeast, Hops, Malt, and Water.
Yeast: Yeast is one of the ingredients used in making beers.
It is a living organism that feeds on sugar and converts the said sugar to alcohol and carbon dioxide.
Hops: Hop is a popular flower gotten from the Humulus Lupulus plant. It’s especially added to beer’s ingredients because of its natural stabilizing and antimicrobial properties.
“Hops help beer ferment cleanly as it contributes a refreshing balancing bitter aroma along with fruity notes.
Malt: Beer is also made from fermented grains, mostly called malted barley, this is to support the brewing process.
This malted barley gives rise to the sugars that the yeast later converts into alcohol. Other grains, called adjuncts, can furthermore be required in addition to the barley.
Water: Water is not only one of the main ingredients used to make beers, but it also plays a vital role in the fermentation process, which helps to convert the starches in the grain into sugars.
All these ingredients go through a brewing process to produce what is known as beer, and this process is called the Fermentation stage.
Now, see how the banana taste occurs in some beers: During the fermentation process, after boiling, the grains (malted barley) and the solid hops are removed, then the mixture is allowed to be cooled.
The producers thus add yeast to this mixture as fermenting with yeast makes beer alcoholic.
Beers take time to ferment, but the time it takes to ferment a kind of beer depends on the yeast class and fermentation method.
However, distinct type of yeast and fermentation processes decide what kind of beer is being made, how it smell, and how it tastes.
For example, the mixture of hefeweizen and Belgian yeast strains will produce a high level of Isoamyl acetate.
Isoamyl acetate, as explained above, is an organic compound and a byproduct of yeasts known to afford a character to the beer.
It has a banana flavor and smell and it occurs in beers through the condensation of acetyl CoA and Isoamyl alcohol during the fermentation process.
Isoamyl acetate is the ester responsible for the banana flavor in some beers.
Although it is present in all beers, some beers may have a larger amount of this compound which makes them have more of a banana taste.
Is The Banana Taste in Beers Harmful For Human Consumption?
As stated above, beers taste according to the number of ingredients or flavors contained in them.
Hence, your brand of beer may have the taste of a banana depending on the large amount of this nifty little organic compound called Isoamyl acetate.
If you are a lover of beers like Hefeweizen, Bavarian-style wheat beers, etc., you will likely have noticed this taste of banana in them, and this does not mean that it has spoiled or poisonous.
Esters that cause the banana taste in beers may also occur due to oxygen in the wort during the fermentation process, because of yeast strain reactions, or because of the carbonation process after the bottling stage.
They are often present to some degree in all beers and so are not harmful to your health.
Having read the causes of this banana taste in your beer, know that there is a solution to control or avoid banana flavor in beer when homebrewing if you need to.
How To Avoid Banana Flavor When Homebrewing
Since some people see this banana flavor in beer as off-flavor and may consider avoiding this taste to occur when homebrewing, we thought you should also learn how to avoid or control this flavor in your beer.
Here are the things to do:
- Choose a yeast strain with a clean flavor profile and ferment at the minimal temperature range – what this means is you need to control your fermentation temperature to achieve a great taste, as the higher the fermentation temperature, the more esters will be produced.
- Make sure to select a healthy yeast: Some yeasts are proven to generate more esters which in turn makes your beer taste like banana.
- If your beer has a banana taste or smell while in the primary fermenter, you can move it to a secondary fermenter for more conditioning.
- And if after producing and bottling your beer, you find out it has this banana flavor, just leave it in a cool place for some time, as this may help to decrease the taste of the banana over time.
Beers taste like bananas because of the Esters found in them. Esters are a byproduct of yeast known to have a fruity virtue to beers.
Some people enjoy this off-flavor in beers because of the fruitiness and bitterness, refreshing aroma, and taste it gives to these beers.
According to beer & brewing magazine, this banana flavor in beers does not harm your health.
Having read and understood why your beer might taste like a banana. We hope you find the information here helpful and useful as it has answered the question bordering you.