GMO IPA? Genetically engineered yeast could provide environmentally friendly alternative to hops

hops cones for beer production
Dozens of plants, including  hops, contain the Agrobacterium microbe — the very same bacterium that scientists typically use to create GM crops.

The bad news for environmentally conscious beer lovers is that hops, a prized floral flavoring of ales, has an oversized water bill. Production of the plants requires 100 billion liters of water a year in the United States alone.

The good news: Scientists in California may have found a way to genetically engineer yeast to produce flavors similar to those in naturally hopped beers.

Describing their work in the journal Nature Communications this week, the scientists report how they conducted blind taste tests of their new brews against a traditional American pale ale and found that people ranked the beer produced with the genetically modified yeast as hoppier.

The engineered yeast was designed to replace the dry hopping late in the brewing process that imparts a complex floral bouquet. The team achieved this by taking DNA from mint and basil plants that produce flavorful terpenes similar to those found in hops.

Through trial and error, they produced a number of different strains of brewer’s yeast by inserting plant genes that produce the terpenes into the yeast’s genome. Then they used fermenters to brew tiny 30-milliliter batches of beer, mimicking the process of an industrial brewer.

Read full, original post: Engineering Yeast to Make Hoppy Beer

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