Attendees of the EBC Brewing Science Group meeting at the Maison des Brasseurs at Brussels, Belgium
04 June 2019

EBC Brewing Science Group Meeting

The 12th Technical Meeting of the EBC Brewing Science Group (BSG) was held on June 5th to 6th, 2018 in Brussels, Belgium.The BSG represents a research network of brewing scientists and technologists working at universities, institutes and, of course, also breweries.

The technical meetings of the BSG take place every two years and being close to an EBC Symposium is always aimed for. This year’s meeting was hosted by the Belgian Brewers’ Association in their late-gothic style administrative headquarters, the “Maison des Brasseurs” (or “Brouwershuis” in Flemish), splendidly situated at the Grand Place in the middle of Brussels on the main square, which happens to be a UNESCO world heritage site.

The meeting was attended by 44 members and guests. Besides the chairman of the group, Dr. Carsten Zufall, and EBC Executive Officer John Brauer, both the current and a former EBC president attended the meeting (Tiago Brandão and Esko Pajunen, respectively), further underlining the importance of this scientific “think-tank” to the wider Europe-based technical brewing community.

Presentations spanned a broad range of brewing-related subjects. All in all, 13 presentations were given, from barley and malt-related subjects (the continuously increasing level of ferulic acid in malt over the past few years, starch and protein compositional changes and their impact on brewing and malting) to hops (optimisation of the extraction of cysteine and glutathione S-conjugates in aroma hop extracts, the use of headspace-trap GC-MS analysis of aroma compounds in beer), to water (H2O demand in breweries as a “just-in-time” process, affecting the design and operating cycles of RO-water plants).

Sustainability was equally high on the agenda, with malting and malt being in the focus of supply chain concepts, essentially resulting in a driving-down of the environmental footprint. A good summary of sustainability-related initiatives pertaining to brewhouse and its energy-efficient operation rounded off this session.

Last, but not least, the aspect of brewing education was covered by two presentations: one concerning the SMILE project highlighted the current state of play of providing brewing/brewery management skills to micro-brewers wishing to obtain some basic qualifications. SMILE is an Erasmus+ project supported by the European Commission. There are five European partners including the EBC. The second talk was about the European Joint Doctorate in Food Science, a collaboration project between several universities in Poland, Germany, Denmark, Belgium and the UK and industrial partners. Members noted, with no small measure of pride, that the initial contact between the partners took place as a direct result of academic brewers meeting through the EBC Brewing Science Group a few years ago.

Until the end of last year, when the EBC Executives gave the green light to an amendment of the group’s terms of reference, no suppliers were allowed membership. This was done to preserve the grop’s primary purpose of assuring high scientific standards and to prevent possible detrimental effects of commercial interests. However, it was felt that raw material suppliers (primarily hops and malt) should be admitted to the group. The invitation to join the meeting as a guest was thus answered by Viking Malt, Boortmalt and Hopsteiner, and presentations were received from each of those companies.

The meeting was rounded off with a hospitality event in the house of the Belgian Brewers, affording spectacular views from their first-floor meeting room across the historical square.

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