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The smell of the ocean . . . stinks in beer

This isn’t exactly new. Live Science explained that the key had been found to the “smell of the sea” more than four years ago, but it appears I was absent that day. Instead, the basics just popped up in an audio book Daria is listening to.

And it turns out dimethyl sulfide, otherwise known as DMS, gives the ocean air “sort of a fishy, tangy smell.” Good when you are strolling along the beach. Not so good in beer, other than at very low levels in a few and full on in Rolling Rock. If you are judging beer you might comment DMS causes a sample to smell and taste of canned or cooked vegetables.

Not surprisingly, some people find it reminds them of shellfish. Recently I judged beers with somebody who said one tasted just like SpaghettiOs.

So let’s say you and a friend order the same beer. You notice DMS and hold your nose. He remembers the night he proposed to his future wife on a beach in Jamaica.

Context. It matters.

2 Responses to The smell of the ocean . . . stinks in beer

  1. Darren June 20, 2011 at 5:31 am #

    A mate judging a home brew comp in Melbourne had an IPA that he described as smelling like the floor of a supermarket deli

  2. Steve June 20, 2011 at 6:07 am #

    You know, there are times when I’m reviewing a light lager and looking for some character to describe in the nose — very often all I can describe is a “fresh” aroma, almost water-like, but not like any water aroma (does water even have an aroma?), more of the breeze-over-a-body-of-water aroma. It’s never been overpowering or distracting (to me), just sort of bland.

    I’ve also noted that vegetal DMS character too, but it’s usually light when the “fresh” character is more prominent.

    No shellfish, though.

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