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The influence of the cork on beer

On November 28, the grant for the study of fermented beverages awarded by the Association of Sugar Businesses is awarded AECORK and the Institut Català del Suro.

This year, the scholarship has been awarded to Leonor Guadarrama, a Mexican researcher studying the Master's Degree in Fermented Beverages at the Rovira i Virgili University of Tarragona.

This scholarship has been accompanied by an internship at the Cork Center Laboratory of the ICSuro where, for two months, he has been doing a study on the influence that the cork can have on beer. In the following interview, he tells us why he decided to do this study and what conclusions he has drawn.

Why did you come up with this study?
The interest in carrying out this study arose after attending a conversation at the URV about the use of cork in wines and all the studies they carry out to be able to guarantee that cork stoppers comply with the necessary characteristics. It was very interesting because there was clearly a large investment in research and development of this in wine but it was also mentioned that in beer there was still no study on the impact that the use of corks could have.

Have you previously been interested in cork?
I really did not know the vast majority of the applications that can be given to cork and many of its characteristics. I completed the master's degree focused on beer, and my previous studies are not related to wine. It was very gratifying to be able to learn much more from this material by having the opportunity to do this project at ICSuro.

What do you like most about cork?
I think it is a material that can have a wide variety of applications due to its mechanical and chemical properties, as well as being a renewable resource, but which have not yet been fully exploited, due to the fact that it is always directly related to the caps used in wine or perhaps for ornamental products.

What are the main conclusions that emerge from your study?
The study made it possible to obtain the necessary dimensions and characteristics of the caps to be able to offer an adequate closure taking into account the bottles and the characteristics of the beer and, in addition, to offer an easy opening for the consumer. In addition to this, it was possible to differentiate between beer stored using corks and beer that was closed with normal sheets. This can be of great interest to brewers who have among their specialties beers that present richer organoleptic character due to the maturation and/or fermentation process they have received.

Leonor Guadarrama doing sensory tests of corked beer
Leonor Guadarrama doing sensory tests of corked beer

Do you think that the rise of craft and organic beer can increase the use of corks, due to the fact that it is the most sustainable?
Yes, there are many breweries that make organic beers and that have invested in being able to produce high-quality beers with only organic raw material, as well as designing beers that undergo maturation in barrels or that fermentation is carried out by means of mixed crops This makes it possible to obtain a high-quality product that is highly appreciated by the consumer. I think that, for these types of breweries, the use of corks would highlight their product even more, and allow the evolution of the aromatic profile resulting in a more complex product.

Do you think that the influence that the use of corks can have on beer should be a more explored area?
Yes, I think the topic should be explored in more depth to be able to offer strong results and focused options for each beer.

Would you like to add something?
I would like to thank the ICSuro for the opportunity to carry out this project. It was a great learning opportunity and opened my eyes to both cork research and beer research.