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Ancient Yeast Reborn in Modern Beer

by David Lauterbach
2008 October 2

Now here’s a good one from Discovery… 

A decade ago scientist Raul Cano drilled a tiny hole into amber (think Jurassic Park) and extracted a tiny colony of bacteria and yeast from a Lebanese weevil that had laid dormant for 45 million years. 

Activating the ancient yeast, Cano now brews barrels of pale ale and German wheat beer through the Fossil Fuels Brewing Company. 

The beer has received good reviews at the Russian River Beer Festival and from other reviewers. The Oakland Tribune beer critic, William Brand, says the beer has “a wierd spiciness at the finish,” and The Washington Post said the beer was “smooth and spicy.” 

Part of that taste comes from the yeast’s unique metabolism. “The ancient yeast is restricted to a narrow band of carbohydrates, unlike more modern yeasts, which can consume just about any kind of sugar,” said Cano. 

“We think that people will drink one beer out of curiosity,” said Cano. “But if the beer doesn’t taste good no one will drink a second.” 

Read the full story at Discovery News.

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