Science

Engineered yeast could improve the flavor of non-alcoholic beer

Engineered yeast could improve...
The yeast could also be utilized in the brewing of traditional full-alcohol beer, making the use of aroma hops unnecessary
The yeast could also be utilized in the brewing of traditional full-alcohol beer, making the use of aroma hops unnecessary
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The yeast could also be utilized in the brewing of traditional full-alcohol beer, making the use of aroma hops unnecessary
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The yeast could also be utilized in the brewing of traditional full-alcohol beer, making the use of aroma hops unnecessary

While non-alcoholic beer has some obvious advantages over its traditional counterpart, many people say that it just doesn't taste as good. Danish scientists now claim to have overcome that problem, using genetically engineered baker's yeast.

Beers are typically made with at least two types of hops: bittering hops – which predictably enough give the beverage its bitter taste – and aroma hops, which give it both its aroma and its "hoppy" flavor.

According to scientists at the University of Copenhagen, much of that aroma and flavor is lost when regular beer is heated to neutralize its alcohol content. And if beer is instead made non-alcoholic by minimizing the fermentation which produces the alcohol, the effect of the aroma hops is still reduced – this is because alcohol plays a key role in transferring the aroma and flavor from the hops into the beer.

The university's Prof. Sotirios Kampranis, researcher Simon Dusséaux and colleagues have now reportedly addressed that problem. They did so by engineering common Saccharomyces cerevisiae yeast in such a way that its peroxisomes – which are organelles that usually oxidize fatty acids – instead produce molecules known as monoterpenoids.

When added to de-alcoholized beer at the end of the brewing process, these molecules are said to give the beer back its hoppy aroma and flavor. "No one has been able to do this before, so it’s a game changer for non-alcoholic beer," said Kampranis.

In fact, the scientists state that aroma hops are no longer even required at all, as the monoterpenoids can take their place. They could even do so in the brewing of regular beer.

The technology is now being developed via spinoff company EvodiaBio, with an eye towards both making better-tasting non-alcoholic beer, and providing an environmentally friendlier alternative to the growing, transporting and processing of aroma hops. It is already being tested in some Danish breweries, and should be ready for commercial use by October.

A paper on the research was recently published in the journal Nature Biotechnology.

Source: University of Copenhagen

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