Saturday, 21 April, 2018

Craft beer may get cheaper thanks to GM yeast with hoppy flavour

Tustin Portola Breakfast Stout at Tustin Brewing Company Tustin Portola Breakfast Stout at Tustin Brewing Company
Sandra Phillips | 21 March, 2018, 18:59

With a rise in craft beers boasting their hoppy credentials, this has led one brewer and scientist to investigate an...

USA scientists have genetically engineered brewer's yeast to make beer that has hoppier flavours without actually adding hops to give that effect.

Bryan Donaldson, innovations manager at Lagunitas, detected notes of "fruit-loops" and "orange blossom" with no off flavors.

Lots of craft beer enthusiasts have a thing for hops-flowers that, when added to the brewing process, yield a bitter taste and a distinctive floral aroma. The researchers then searched for other plants that made these same oils and isolated the genes that were responsible for producing them. And hops are expensive. Charles Denby and Rachel Li from University of California, Berkeley, and colleagues inserted genes for enzymes so that yeast produces the flavour molecules linalool and geraniol, as well as ethanol.

Synthesising hoppy flavours in beer, in other words, means significantly less water and fertilizer is needed to produce the flawless pint.

The engineered yeast strains were altered using CRISPR-Cas9, a simple and affordable gene-editing tool invented at UC Berkeley.

"Brewer's yeast can be engineered to biosynthesize aromatic monoterpene molecules that impart hoppy flavor to beer by incorporating recombinant DNA derived from yeast, mint, and basil", the researchers wrote in their study.

This boosted the production of flavours normally provided by adding hops during the brewing process. Hop flavor was supplied only by the new yeast strains.

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"Beers produced using these strains are perceived as hoppier than traditionally hopped beers by a sensory panel in a double-blind tasting". These microbes can make such chemicals as the antimalarial drug, artemisinin, fuels such as butanol, and aromas and flavors used in the cosmetic industry.

The researchers said that they are excited to make brewing process more sustainable.

If you're thirsting for a taste of the new beer, you're out of luck-for now.

When the team brewed beer using the genetically engineered yeast, linalool and geraniol were in the final product-but they came from the yeast, not from hop plants. "That's what we're passionate about", he told Inside Science, "and that's why we are working hard on it". "At the same time, we were building tools to accurately control metabolism". Today, beer-making procedures do not need hops for preservation but only for flavor, noted the report.

The method was made trickier by the fact that commercial brewer's yeast has four sets of chromosomes, unlike the strains used in research labs, which typically possess a single pair. In the United States alone, producing these plants requires 100 billion liters of water per year.

But although the Berkeley team was already expert in making terpene molecules like linalool and geraniol with yeast, beer strains are different.

"Using the appropriate tools to control production of these flavours can result in a beer with a more consistent hoppy flavour, even better than what nature can do itself", Keasling said.

The work was funded from grants awarded by the National Science Foundation. According to Inside Science, the scientists were working on a way to alter yeast DNA so that it would produce oils that could be used as biofuels.

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