Fusarium Infection Tests and Gushing
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Gushing in beer is a very severe quality defect, that may be caused by fungal components present in the brewing materials. In particular, species of the genus Fusarium, that infect barley during growth in the field, or Aspergillus and Penicillium, favoured by wet storage conditions, may secrete components causing gushing (fig. 1).

The identity of gushing components is still unknown, but measures taken to avoid gushing include evaluation of the mycological status of barley prior to malting combined with a test for the gushing tendency of finished malt.

Carlsberg has established a fast, sensitive and specific immunological test for detection of Fusarium in barley, based on antibodies to Fusarium antigens produced during growth of the fungus (fig. 2). In a few hours, this method quantifies even minute amounts of Fusarium antigens. In contrast to the viability of Fusarium, these antigens are very stable during storage. Therefore, the content of Fusarium antigens reflects the entire "history" of a sample irrespective of storage time, while standard plate count tests may fail to detect non-viable Fusarium and thus the risk of gushing factors already produced during a previous growth phase.

A test for the gushing tendency of finished malt has also been developed, based on the assumption that gushing components must be 1) water-soluble, 2) active and soluble after boiling, and 3) active under conditions prevalent in beer. Therefore, gushing components are extracted from malt (or other brewing materials) by blending with water. After centrifugation of the suspension, the supernatant is boiled. A volume of beer is then removed from bottles of regular beer and substituted by boiled supernatant. After recapping the bottles, gushing potential is activated by a rocking regime (fig. 3). This test can be completed within three days and is at least as sensitive as more time consuming mini-brew tests.

Materials for these two tests can be purchased directly from Carlsberg. For further information on reagents for evaluation of Fusarium in barley, please contact Pia Vaag (piv@crc.dk). For positive and negative control samples for the gushing test, please contact Preben Riis (preben.riis@carlsberg.com).

Gushing of beer

 

Immunological test

 

gushtest.gif (15998 bytes)

Gushing test

 

 

This page was last updated 06/08/99. Send comments to