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Dimethyl Sulfide – Significance, Origins, and Control1


Dimethyl sulfide (DMS) is a substantial contributor to the aroma of many lager-style beers. Opinion varies on its desirability. It can be derived in beer from two sources: the thermal decomposition of S-methylmethionine (SMM) produced in the embryo of barley during germination, or the reduction of dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO, derived from the breakdown of SMM during the curing of malt) by yeast. The enzyme that effects DMSO reduction is a reductase whose primary function is the reduction of methionine sulfoxide and which competes for reducing power with several other cellular systems. Control of DMS production from SMM is achieved by specifying precursor levels in malt, by attending to the vigor and duration of the boil, and by controlling the length of the whirlpool stand. Control of DMS production from yeast is achieved by specifying yeast strain, wort gravity, free amino nitrogen and pH, the type of fermenter (ergo the extent of volatilization), and the fermentation temperature.

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