Scientists have used a gene-editing tool to create brewer’s yeast which imparts the flavour of hops without using the plant itself.
Trimming genes from basil and mint, researchers from UC Berkeley in California engineered yeast strains for brewing beer without the dried plant.
Cutting out hops from the process may seem like a strange exercise, but it could be environmentally friendly, especially as craft beer with hoppier profiles grows in popularity.
To grow enough hops for one pint of beer around 50 pints of water are required.
“My hope is that if we can use the technology to make great beer that is produced with a more sustainable process, people will embrace that,” said Charles Denby, co-author of the study published in journal Nature Communications.
Not only is beer created in this way better for the environment, it also gives a more consistent flavour as it doesn’t rely on changeable seasons to grow a natural product.
In double-blind taste tests, 27 employees of Lagunitas Brewing Company in Petaluma, California, characterised beer made from the engineered strains as more hoppy than a control beer made with regular yeast and Cascade hops.
Bryan Donaldson, innovations manager at Lagunitas, detected notes of “fruit-loops” and “orange blossom” with no off-flavours.