Carlsberg Research Communications

, Volume 53, Issue 1, pp 1–9 | Cite as

Onion-like off-flavour in beer: Isolation and identification of the culprits

  • Arne Olsen
  • Bo Werner Christensen
  • Jørgen Øgaard Madsen


Beer with an onion-like off-flavour is found to contain two unusual sulphur compounds: (1-methylethyl)-thiirane and 2-mercapto-3-methyl-1-butanol. The off-flavour is attributable to the latter, previously unknown compound. The methods used are: extraction of beer with trichlorofluoromethane, GC analyses of extractives and reference compounds, using a sulphur sensitive flame photometric detector, and GC-MS. Both of the new sulphur constituents are synthesized and their structures ascertained by NMR and MS.


Beer sulphur compounds (1-methylethyl)-thiirane 2-mercapto-3-methyl-1-butanol off-flavour onion extraction gas chromatography mass spectrometry taste testing 



flame ionization detector


flame photometric detector


gas chromatography


mass spectrometry


nuclear magnetic resonance




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Copyright information

© Carlsberg Laboratory 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • Arne Olsen
    • 1
  • Bo Werner Christensen
    • 2
  • Jørgen Øgaard Madsen
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Brewing ChemistryCarlsberg Research CenterCopenhagen Valby
  2. 2.Department of Organic ChemistryThe Technical University of DenmarkLyngby

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