Scientists Develop Gene-Edited Yeast to Brew Beer without Hops

Scientists Develop Gene-Edited Yeast to Brew Beer without Hops
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Researchers from University of California Berkeley engineered yeast strains to develop flavor similar to hops used in brewing beer

Most beers are made from four key ingredients namely water, yeast, hops, and barley. Varieties such as pale ales and IPAs are known for their strong hoppy notes, which gives them refreshingly bitter flavors. Researchers engineered yeast strains that imitate the flavors of beer provided by hops. The sample was examined by audience who concluded that new beer made from genetically modified yeast tasted hoppier than a beer made using Cascade hops. The study was published in the journal Nature Communications on March 26, 2018.

Around 50 pints of water is required to grow hops for one pint of craft beer, without considering the fertilizer and energy required to grow and transport the crop. The study aimed to reduce the environmental impact of growing hops by genetically engineering yeast with hoppy flavors. “Growing hops requires a lot of natural resources,” Rachel Li, a UC Berkeley doctoral candidate who co-led the research. “Water for irrigation and energy for processing, transporting, storing, and refrigerating. By using these yeast strains, hoppy beers can be produced more sustainably than they currently are.”
Researchers described method of using gene-editing tool CRISPR-Cas9 to engineer yeast containing hop-like characteristic. Using CRISPR, gene editing tool precise part of the genome was removed along with introduction of new genetic information. “Taste tests of the beer brewed with our strains confirmed that the yeast added hoppy flavor and aroma to the beer. In fact, our beer was rated as hoppier than two beers that were dry-hopped,” said Denby. Li and Denby started Berkeley Brewing Science Company to market genetically engineered yeast strains to brewers. Beyond making hoppy yeast, Li said they’re hoping to use gene-editing to add more natural and unique flavors, while enhancing the performance of industrial brewer’s yeast for more sustainable brewing.

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