Beer: the molecular complexity of Maillard products
The Maillard reaction is a deeply investigated, yet not fully understood sequence of chemical reactions that enriches our lives through e.g. the formation of aromatic volatiles during food production and preparation. This reaction network is also hidden in beer and gives darker beers their characteristic color and roasted flavor. By ultrahigh-resolving mass spectrometry (FTICR-MS), we were able to make visible a comprehensive picture of thousands of molecular compositions playing a role in the Maillard reaction. Their systematic chemical nature could be uncovered and typical reaction sequences could be postulated via molecular networking. Mapping the previously widely underestimated complexity and richness of Maillard reaction products in beer might be a starting point for process development and quality control in both the malting and brewing industries.