Broth and agar hop-gradient plates used to evaluate the beer-spoilage potential of Lactobacillus and Pediococcus isolates

  • Haakensen M
  • Schubert A
  • Ziola B
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Identification of the beer-spoilage Lactobacillus and Pediococcus bacteria has largely taken two approaches; identification of spoilage-associated genes or identification of specific species of bacteria regardless of ability to grow in beer. The problem with these two approaches is that they are either overly inclusive (i.e., detect all bacteria of a given species regardless of spoilage potential) or overly selective (i.e., rely upon individual, putative spoilage-associated genes). Our goal was to design a method to assess the ability of Lactobacillus and Pediococcus to spoil beer that is independent of speciation or genetic background. In searching for a method by which to differentiate between beer-spoilage bacteria and bacteria that cannot grow in beer, we explored the ability of lactobacilli and pediococci isolates to grow in the presence of varying concentrations of hop-compounds and ethanol in broth medium versus on agar medium. The best method for differentiating between bacteria that can grow in beer and bacteria that do not pose a threat as beer-spoilage organisms was found to be a hop-gradient agar plate containing ethanol. This hop-gradient agar plate technique provides a rapid and simple solution to the dilemma of assessing the ability of Lactobacillus and Pediococcus isolates to grow in beer, and provides new insights into the different strategies used by these bacteria to survive under the stringent conditions of beer. © 2008 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Beer-spoilage
  • Gradient plates
  • Hop-resistance
  • Lactobacillus
  • Pediococcus

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