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Session #117: More of less, please

The SessionOur marching orders for The Session No. 117 are pretty straightforward, to consider the future of beer and “capture ONE thing you think we will see MORE of with an explanation of the idea.”

I’m not all that great at making predictions, so I’m going with something I hope we see more of, and that is less. I’m pretty sure this will happen, but I’m just as certain that we going to see more in-your-face-big-flavor beers as well, full of plenty of hops or plenty of alcohol, or both.

Using less, as in less hops for instance, may result in more nuance, and nuance is actually what I’d like to find more of. Here’s a quick explanation from For The Love of Hops. Linda Buck and Richard Axel received the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 2004 in part because they established the role olfactory receptors play in now the brain discriminates one odor from another. We have approximately 20 million receptors in each nostril, controlled by about 350 active receptor genes. The first stop a collection of molecules otherwise known as an odor makes on the way to the brain, and to being identified as a particular aroma, is in the receptors. Once activated, neurons transmit signals to the olfactory bulb of the brain, which relays those signals to the olfactory cortex. Olfactory information is sent from there to a number of other brain areas.

Buck and Axel determined odor receptors operate in combination to encode odor identities. Different odors are encoded by different combinations of odor receptors. Each odor receptor is part of the codes for many odors, and different odors have different receptor codes. Altering the molecular structure of an odor changes the receptor code and therefore the perceived odor. For the same reason, a change in the concentration of an odor may change how it is perceived. Higher concentrations involve additional odor receptors, altering the odor response and ultimately how we perceive what we call aroma. In other studies, scientists found that a blend of multiple compounds could result in a aroma that appeared to be less complex than one with fewer compounds.

So either using less of a single compound or including fewer compounds in a recipe may result in more.

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