Could Cult Yeasts Become the New Hops?


2 minute Read

Could Cult Yeasts Become the New Hops?

American craft beer is responsible for 456,000 full-time jobs, but it recently expanded to a new industry: bioprospecting. It’s just like gold prospecting, but on a much smaller level. And with more beer.

According to NPR, sour beer producers are joining forces with microbiologists to bio-prospect new yeasts and bacteria from random locations. Microbiologists collect samples from locations like old rooms, nature, and people’s beards. Then brewers experiment with them to see what creates a good sour taste and what creates a bad sour taste. And, just like gold prospecting, the success rate is extremely low.

“We’ve worked with 54 different species from 24 genera,” Matthew Bochman, a microbiologist at Indiana University, told NPR. Of those 54, five can be used to make sour beer.

Sours can be broken down into two types: sour flavor created by yeast, and sour flavor created by bacteria. Many bacteria, with the exception of Lactobacillus, have a hard time surviving in an alcoholic liquid. Enter wild yeasts. Yeast floating around the air around us can be captured and used to ferment beer. That yeast results in a beer representative of a locations yeast terroir, if you will, something that Urban Artifact in Cincinnati, Ohio, has been experimenting with for years.

“People are really excited about understanding what hops their beer was made from,” Anne Madden, a bioprospecting microbiologist at North Carolina State University, told NPR. “In the very near future, you’re going to see consumers asking what yeast their beer was made with.”

That’s a truly wild idea.

I’m a firm believer in the idea that craft beer can change lives. I’ve patiently told people who don’t think that beer is important to tell that to the hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of people who depend on beer for a living. But microbiologists? That’s one field I didn’t expect to get a beer bump. Let’s never stop being amazed at beer, please.

Data reveals the best baseball stadiums for craft beer

What a time to be alive. There’s a lot of negativity that comes from big data (read: Equifax, and the possibility that all of our facial data could be sold via iPhone), but there’s some good, too. Like how data can tell us where to find the best craft beer.

A website called Review Tracker analyzed 130,000 reviews of baseball stadiums and found the best ones for craft beer: the Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati, Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, Petco Park in San Diego, Progressive Field in Cleveland, and Miller Park in Milwaukee. These stadiums have bars with 60 taps and more than 30 different local breweries.

Time to make a trip out before the season ends.

The Great American Beer Festival is upon us

From Thursday, October 5, to Saturday, October 7, the GABF will dominate the minds of beer writers — including over here at VinePair. We’ll be flying in with Samuel Adams on an inflight tasting on Thursday, a barrel-aged beer tasting with Avery Brewing early on Friday, then trying as many beers and talking to as many brewers as we can on Friday and Saturday during the festival.

Follow along on my Twitter account (@nickolaushines) and Instagram (also @nickolaushines) to see the action in real time, and look for our stories next week.


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