Grain, hops, water, yeast. The key ingredients that make up the delicious elixir we like to call beer. The most important of these: yeast. Nobody gives the key ingredient the attention it deserves or realizes the insane complexity behind it. Two researchers have taken to figuring out the story of yeast and how each individual strain affects the way our beer tastes.
White Labs of Southern California and a Belgian genetics lab have teamed up to map out the history of yeast and create the first genetic family tree for yeast and the beers it makes. Imagine all the branches on that family tree. So far, the labs have researched more than 240 yeasts from around the world including some of our favorites: Sam Adams, Stone Brewing Co., and Sierra Nevada. By analyzing the DNA of each of these yeast strains, the researchers will be able to how closely related individual yeasts are and what beers tastes similar because of that.
So why should you care about the genetic breakdown of yeasts? With all of this info, researchers will be able to create new strains that could possibly lead to different tasting beers than we’re used to. The future of our hoppy beverages could be changed forever.