Author Topic: Is it possible that I can't detect 4-vinyl guaiacol (clove phenol?)  (Read 981 times)

Offline beer_crafter

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Is it possible that I can't detect 4-vinyl guaiacol (clove phenol?)  Whenever I am at a tasting and others call a beer "clovey" I cannot detect it at all.  I don't think it is a case of not being able to ID the aroma/flavor.  Is this possible?  I know that diacetyl is not detectable by everyone.

Offline tom

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Re: Is it possible that I can't detect 4-vinyl guaiacol (clove phenol?)
« Reply #1 on: January 09, 2012, 11:20:50 AM »
There is a lot of variance in our abilities.
Why don't you get a bottle of cloves and see what you smell?
Brew on

Offline tschmidlin

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Re: Is it possible that I can't detect 4-vinyl guaiacol (clove phenol?)
« Reply #2 on: January 09, 2012, 04:44:49 PM »
Is it possible that I can't detect 4-vinyl guaiacol (clove phenol?)  Whenever I am at a tasting and others call a beer "clovey" I cannot detect it at all.  I don't think it is a case of not being able to ID the aroma/flavor.  Is this possible?  I know that diacetyl is not detectable by everyone.
It could be that you can't smell it or that your threshold is different, it's also possible that you perceive it differently or that they are just wrong.
Tom Schmidlin

Offline thomasbarnes

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Re: Is it possible that I can't detect 4-vinyl guaiacol (clove phenol?)
« Reply #3 on: January 25, 2012, 07:57:46 PM »
Is it possible that I can't detect 4-vinyl guaiacol (clove phenol?)  Whenever I am at a tasting and others call a beer "clovey" I cannot detect it at all.  I don't think it is a case of not being able to ID the aroma/flavor.  Is this possible?  I know that diacetyl is not detectable by everyone.

Phenols are fairly distinctive compounds and often have relatively low perception thresholds. It's more likely that the clove notes in your beer are subtle or are being masked by other things. In that case, it takes some practice to pick them out.

As others have said, experiment by getting some cloves and smelling them. Better yet, gently steep some of the cloves in hot water (ca. 170 *F for about 20 minutes) and determine if you can smell anything in the vapor. Once your "clove tea" cools down a bit, you can also taste it to get a sense of what the flavor is like. If you're feeling really brave, you can add it to beer and see if you can still detect the clove flavors and aromas.

Your interpretation of what you smell and taste might very well be different from other peoples' perceptions, but at least you will know what smell and taste YOU should be checking for when other people mention clove-like character.

Offline bluesman

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Re: Is it possible that I can't detect 4-vinyl guaiacol (clove phenol?)
« Reply #4 on: January 25, 2012, 08:17:54 PM »
I know for a fact that we all have varying degrees of aroma thresholds. Are you able to identify a clove aromatic? i.e. whole cloves. Assuming that you can do that then pick some commercial examples and try identifying the clove in them. Try identifying the clove or banana in Schneider Weisse.
Ron Price

Offline richardt

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Re: Is it possible that I can't detect 4-vinyl guaiacol (clove phenol?)
« Reply #5 on: January 26, 2012, 09:14:10 AM »
Cloves are pretty distinctive in aroma and flavor. 
Most homes have some clove spices laying around so definitely try what Tom and Ron are suggesting.
Weiss biers (German Wheat Beer) are distinctive with the banana and clove flavor/aromas (yeast derived, plus some fancy step mashing techniques, i.e., ferrulic acid rests). 
Try a trip down the spice isle at a more upscale grocery store or Penzey's.
It's worth calibrating your senses to detect cloves if you're into judging beers.

Offline thomasbarnes

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Re: Is it possible that I can't detect 4-vinyl guaiacol (clove phenol?)
« Reply #6 on: January 27, 2012, 05:04:31 AM »
It's worth calibrating your senses to detect cloves if you're into judging beers.

Not just judging. Being able to detect and analyze "off" characteristics makes you a better all-around brewer, since you can troubleshoot your own brewing problems.