Research focus

The primary research focus at UC Davis reflects the changing needs of the brewing industry (and related industries)

The specializations cover issues of real pertinence to maltsters and brewers and primarily focus on quality of product from both industries.

Go to the Who am I? page for details of all the relevant papers and articles.

Amongst the key research themes are the following:

  • Flavor stability

Achieving good flavor life in beer is the principal technical challenge still faced by the brewing industry. In this most complicated of areas, studies in the laboratories of Bamforth over the past 25 years have led to many insights into the phenomenon of oxidation in beer and the process streams leading to beer. In particular he highlighted the significance of oxygen radicals in the deterioration process and approaches that may be used to scavenge, or prevent the formation of, these damaging species.

  • Foam stability

Although the demand for a stable foam on a beer is different globally, the need which brewers have to deliver a beer with a stable head in those markets where it is necessary is manifest. Bamforth’s work has revealed the importance of hydrophobic polypeptides to stable foams.

  • Relating beer chemistry to perception

The chemistry of beer is complex, with respect to its flavor and appearance. Interpreting the significance of changes in this chemistry to the customers’ perception and appreciation of quality involves the brewing lab at Davis with sensory gurus Jean-Xavier Guinard and Michael O’Mahony in the Food Science & technology department.

  • The composition and breakdown of the cell wall in barley

The walls surrounding the cells in the food reserve of barley (the starchy endosperm) comprise four main components: b-glucan, pentosan, protein and acids. Efficient breakdown of these walls is needed during the germination phase of malting if the viscous polymers are not going to present a problem to the brewer. Although the gross composition of the walls is known, there is very little understanding of how the various components interface in the wall: Are they covalently linked? Are they layered? What are the enzymes that carry out the initial attack on the walls? Are there structural differences between malting grade and feed grade barleys? These and other questions are being addressed in this program.

  • The wholesomeness of beer

The major thrust now is on evaluating beer for its perceived and actual role in a healthful diet.

Please contact Charlie Bamforth (530-752-9476; fax 530-752-4759; if you would like to discuss this research work and how to get involved in it.