How does carbonation effect taste?

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ricksam

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Does carbonation change the taste, or is it just perception? To me, carbonation seems to increase bitterness and reduce sweetness. Is this right, or is there more to it than that?
 

solbes

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It does bring out some bitterness, no doubt there. A good head can really bring out the aroma of hops as well. Carbonation can mask some of the malty flavors, which is one reason why I carb those type of beers a little lower.
 

unionrdr

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This is where carbing to style comes in handy with the priming calculators. Malty beers generally take less carbonation,where hoppy likes more. But a dark lager will be smooth with decent carbonation. So it def depends on the style involved.
 
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ricksam

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That makes a lot of sense and seems to be a much over-looked factor taste profiling in different styles. I made an IPA that took a month to fully carbonate and is now a completely different beer than it was early....had a really nice malty backbone early(that I enjoyed) and that has since been replaced by more bitterness because, I assume, of the fully completed carbonation. Still love the beer, just very different from what it was. Lesson learned.
 
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ricksam

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That is an interesting article Revvy! Just another variable in trying to decipher flavor profiles....
 
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ricksam

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Now Revvy there is no need to bring my mother into this....
 

dlaramie08

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Ever compared water to sparkling water? I don't need an article to tell me carbonation has a taste. The funny thing is I don't care for sparkling water. But I tend to like my beers well carbonated. Even styles that are traditionally lowly carbed. Now that's a question worth asking.
 

william_shakes_beer

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There's no better way to answer questions like this than to experiment for yourself. Next time you're ready to bottle a batch, scoop up some wort from the fermenter and bottle it without priming sugar. The place them in a dishwasher and run it on the sanitize settiing. Then mark it and condition with the rest. That will deprive that will deprive that bottle of extra sugar and kill the yeast in that bottle. See what the difference is and report back to us.
 

LayerUp

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Water Chemistry, oh boy.

As everyone on this forum no doubt knows, carbonation is simply dissolved CO2. What causes the CO2 to stay in suspension within the beer, is the factors based off of temperature, partial pressures, and solubility. Just like oxygen, CO2 tends to dissolve more readily, and at higher concentrations, into colder liquids.

Usings henry's law, and the ideal gas law (wikipedia if you need background on this information), we know that as the pressure in the bottle increases, due to the fermentation process producing CO2, the CO2 concentration in solution will increase. This is what causes your brew to become carbonated.

I told you that story to tell you this story: When CO2 dissolves in a liquid, it does not stay as CO2, but rather, it combines with a water molecule (H2O), to form carbonic acid, H2CO3. This acts as a buffer, which prevents pH changes in solution. If the pH raises (becomes more basic, rather than acidic), a hydrogen proton is cleaved off of the carbonic acid to form the following two chemicals: HA + HCO3 (where A is a base). However, when you add more carbonic acid, you also raise the pH, which in itself causes more free hydrogen atoms to float in the solution.

Now Hydrogen atoms are simply protons, and they are the only acid that exists. So that is to say, the more free hydrogen you have, the more acidic the solution is. This explains why you are able to taste "carbonation", you are simply tasting the extra acid the carbonation adds to the solution.
 

LayerUp

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When you pop the top off of your bottle, you release the pressure within, verifiable by the hiss you hear. Now you are changing the system that the beer is open to. Instead of a small headspace with a lot of pressure created from CO2, the beer is now in contact with the atmosphere, which has a very low CO2 concentration, but is mostly made up of nitrogen and oxygen. Because the CO2 concentration in your beer is so high compared to the concentration in the atmosphere, the beer will release bubbles in the form of CO2, as you see when you pore it into a glass.

Because of this, you can often taste the acidic difference between a freshly opened beer, and one that has been open for a while and is becoming flat.
 
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