Discrimination of geographical origin of hop (Humulus lupulus L.) using geochemical elements combined with statistical analysis
Beer is a popular alcoholic beverage worldwide, traditionally made from water, barley and hop (Humulus lupulus L.) strobili. The strobili contain lupulin glands whose components (mostly bitter acids and polyphenols) confer unique and locally different flavours to beer types. It is therefore relevant for brewers and consumers to precisely know the geographical origin of hop plants used for high-quality beer. Hop plants belonging to the variety Hallertau Perle, grown in two locations, Cavalese and Imèr, of the Trentino Region (Italy) were analysed to establish a direct relationship between the chemical elements detected in soil and in plant parts. Chemical elements were determined by X-ray fluorescence and inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry in soil, leaf and strobili samples from Cavalese and Imèr. The data from the two areas were compared by a nonparametric test (Mann–Whitney) and multivariate statistics (principal component analysis and partial least squares discriminant analysis). The geochemical characterization and the statistical analyses showed different concentrations of major and trace elements in soil and plant parts from the two areas. A reliable correlation could be established between some elements in soil and strobili samples, that is Nb, Fe, Rb and Zr for Cavalese and Mg, Ni, Zn and Zr for Imèr. These elements could therefore be used as geochemical fingerprints to identify the geographical origin of strobili from the two study areas, an approach useful to verify the origin of hop plants for the production of high-quality beer.
KeywordsBeer Fingerprints Geochemistry ICP-MS Trentino Traceability PCA
The authors owe thanks to Mr. Fabio Simoni and Mr. Nicola Simion (BioNoć Brewery, Mezzano di Primiero, Trento, Italy) and Mr. Stefano Gilmozzi (Fiemme Brewery, Daiano, Trento, Italy) for allowing to collect soil, leaf and strobili samples. The authors also wish to thank Mr. Renzo Tassinari for technical advice and Mr. Michele Lunelli for help in sample collection and processing.
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