Breakthrough barley research
A joint research effort between Heineken and Carlsberg has resulted in the development of
Null-Lox barley, which produces beer that stays fresh longer and has improved foam stability.
World ofHeineken 41 winter 2009
"This is a breakthrough innovation, because
it prolongs the freshness of beer," says
Heineken's Research Innovation Director
Flavour stability is a key - any changes to
flavour during distribution of storage can
impact on the consumer's perception of the
conistency and quality of the beer. When a
beer is beginning to go stale, it takes on a
papery, cardboard-like flavour. This flavour
originates from a chemical compound known
as Nonenal, caused by the malting barley
"Blocking the formation of this enzyme
prevents formation of the chemical
compound, Nonenal, and therefore stops the
emergence of the cardboard-like flavour,"
says Lex. "This helps to prolong the fresh
character of beer."
THE PATH TOWARDS NULL-LOX
During the research, a large-scale screening
programme was initiated to select barley
plants that lacked the ability to produce the
malting barley enzyme Lipoxygenase. This
screening resulted in the Null-Lox barley.
Field studies show that Null-Lox barley
displays no difference to other barleys in key
characteristics such as disease resistance,
maturation time and yield. Elaborate
industrial malting and brewing trials also
demonstrated that the Null-Lox barley
varieties can be easily processed.
In the trial stage, two sets of beer were
produced: one with Null-Lox malt, and a
reference beer with regular malt. Taste tests
by Heineken's Flavour Research Panel showed
no difference between the two, while the
Nonenal concentration in the Null-Lox beer
remained well below that of the reference
beer during storage.
The taste test showed that beer made using
Null-Lox barley aged at a significantly slower
rate than the reference beer. The Null-Lox
barley also results in beer that has better
foam stability compared to beer made from
50,000 TONNES AND GROWING
Currently, a series of Null-Lox barley varieties
have been added to the official European
variety list. In 2009, Heineken produced
50,000 tonnes of Null-Lox barley, which will
be used for the production of 2.2 million
hectolitres ofHeineken lager beer. Null-Lox
barley is presently produced in France,
Greece, Austria and New Zealand. Plans exist
to expand to other countries, among them
the UK and Germany, in 2010.
Heineken continues to cooperate in working
to develop even better performing varieties.