Introducing the terpene of the week: Linalool.
Over the coming weeks, we’re delving into the major terpenes found in beer. These kiddos give all the beautiful hop flavours we seek so much. Linalool is regarded as a key marker for the overall hoppyness of a beer, imparting floral and slightly citrus notes.
Linalool is an alcohol terpene, meaning it is an oxidised product of myrcene, the major terpene found in hops. It is much more soluble than primary terpenes and interestingly, its levels do not increase with dry hopping. Linalool concentration occurs best in beer when hops are added towards the end of boil, particularly one or two minutes before flame out.
Inducing a strong calming feeling, linalool is a major component of perfumes, detergents, and shampoos. Linalool is biotransformed by some yeasts, producing alpha-terpineol, a strong citrus flavour.
Linalool levels in hops correlated reasonable with the overall flowery punch of each variety. It accounts for a tiny, less than 1% fraction of the overall hop oil volume. It’s extremely low flavour threshold, however, means these tiny amounts are easily perceived by us hominins.