By gently bubbling nitrogen gas through beer, an effervescent beverage, both volatile and non-volatile compounds can be simultaneously sampled in the form of aerosol. This allows for fast (within seconds) fingerprinting by extractive electrospray ionization mass spectrometry (EESI-MS) in both negative and positive ion mode, without the need for any sample pre-treatment such as degassing and dilution. Trace analytes such as volatile esters (e.g., ethyl acetate and isoamyl acetate), free fatty acids (e.g., caproic acid, caprylic acid, and capric acid), semi/non-volatile organic/inorganic acids (e.g., lactic acid), and various amino acids, commonly present in beer at the low parts per million or at sub-ppm levels, were detected and identified based on tandem MS data. Furthermore, the appearance of solvent cluster ions in the mass spectra gives insight into the sampling and ionization mechanisms: aerosol droplets containing semi/non-volatile substances are thought to be generated via bubble bursting at the surface of the liquid; these neutral aerosol droplets then collide with the charged primary electrospray ionization droplets, followed by analyte extraction, desolvation, ionization, and MS detection. With principal component analysis, several beer samples were successfully differentiated. Therefore, the present study successfully extends the applicability of EESI-MS to the direct analysis of complex liquid samples with high gas content.
- Beer analysis
- EESI mechanism
- Extractive electrospray ionization