Homebrewer, craft brewer, or commercial brewmaster, you’ve likely heard the buzz on adding terpenes to beer to alter the aroma, taste, and possible effects of your hoppy brew.
What are Terpenes, Exactly?
Terpenes are the botanical compounds found in every plant, including the hops in beer, and produce the essential oils in plants that give a particular effect. Although found in cannabis and most closely aligned to that industry, terpenes are completely legal and are considered safe for consumption.
Because terpenes can be so powerful, they have become revered in cannabis for their flavor profiles and THC-enhancing effects. They are also increasingly used in conventional and alternative medicine for their therapeutic properties. Now, terpenes in both isolate form and certain terpene profiles are being added to food and beverage -- beer in particular -- as a flavor profile enhancement.
As more beverage companies embrace terpenes, certain “terps” are starting to come out on top as a consumer favorite.
Here are 5 terpenes that are topping the charts for terpene-infused beer:
Limonene is instantly recognizable to the nose and palate. Limonene can be found in citrus fruits like lemon, lime, grapefruit, and orange, and is known for its energizing and uplifting effects. Its taste and aroma are fruity, with a lingering sweetness. It is a prevalent terpene within cannabis, showing up in strains like Lemon OG and Durban Poison.
Peppery and spicy, this terpene can be found in black pepper, cloves, basil, cinnamon, and many other spices. Beta-caryophyllene has a special place in the cannabis world, as it was discovered that it acts on the same receptors of the body’s cannabinoid receptors, engaging with the body in a way similar to cannabis. In fact, in some cannabis circles, you may hear about chewing black pepper to counteract the effects of THC because this terpene and the cannabinoid are so similar in how they function.
In addition to its spicy taste profile, beta-caryophyllene has been researched for its anti-inflammatory properties, with researchers believing that it helps protect the aging brain.
The refreshing and uplifting scent you get when walking through a forest of pine trees is alpha-pinene, with its piney aroma giving this terpene its name.
Also found in rosemary, alpha-pinene has a woodsy, earthy, and herbal scent. Alpha-pinene and beta-pinene are similar terpenes; however, the latter is more water-soluble.
In its medical cannabis applications, alpha-pinene is known for its anti-inflammatory and possible pain-relieving effects and may also be a bronchodilator, helping with certain respiratory conditions.
Lavender is one of the most sought-after essential oils due to its relaxing and calming properties, which is why we see linalool, the terpene that’s present in lavender, make its way into terpene-infused beer.
Linalool is known for its floral aroma and is said to make a perfect pairing with wheat ales because of the way the floral notes compliment the creamy, sweetish-yet-spicy flavor of the beer.
Last but not least, humulene is the terpene found in hops. Hops give beer its woody and spicy taste, and are an essential ingredient in beer. Why add humulene terpenes into beer if it already contains hops? Adding humulene terpenes to beer contributes to a bolder flavor profile and extends the shelf life of the beer’s taste. Adding terpenes is said to decreases the number of hops required, with some breweries reporting a 30-40% reduction in the use of hops.
Explore Terpene Isolates with True Terpenes
Backed by the science of terpenes and using extraction techniques that result in an ultra-distilled, water-soluble product, True Terpenes offers brewers various botanical terpene isolates and terpene blends to add to beer.