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Biotech

Designing DNA Circuits To Brew Tastier Beer 135

Posted by timothy
from the but-can-they-make-beer-taste-good? dept.
Al writes "Researchers at Boston University have developed a way to predict the behavior of different DNA segments and make synthetic biology a little bit more reliable. James Collins and colleagues have built libraries of component parts and a mathematical modeling system to help them predict the behavior of parts of a gene network. Like any self-respected bunch of grad students, they decided to demonstrate the approach by making beer. They engineered gene promoters to control when flocculation occurs in brewers yeast, which allowed them to finely control the flavor of the resulting beer."
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Designing DNA Circuits To Brew Tastier Beer

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  • Dear God! (Score:5, Funny)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @05:52PM (#27679893) Journal
    Somebody must stop them... Before they produce the beverage man was not meant to brew!
  • Purity (Score:4, Interesting)

    by oldspewey (1303305) on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @05:57PM (#27679969)
    A philosophical question: can beer brewed using genetically engineered yeast still be pure according to Reinheitsgebot [wikipedia.org]?
    • Sure, but it would likely taste like feet
    • Re:Purity (Score:5, Insightful)

      by QRDeNameland (873957) on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @06:05PM (#27680057)
      Being that the Reinheitsgebot doesn't even mention yeast (as its existence and role in fermentation were unknown in 1516), I'd have to say "yes".
      • Re:Purity (Score:4, Informative)

        by Nidi62 (1525137) on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @08:57PM (#27681701)
        The Reinheitsgebot was actually amended to allow yeast as an ingredient once it was understood the central role yeast plays in brewing.(According to a Bavarian brewer on a History channel special on beer, as well as this website:http://oldemeckbrew.com/Beer/reinheitsgebot.php)
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        And yeasts have been cultured for a more predictable fermentation since it was discovered to be possible. Is the preservation of a certain yeast strain considered genetic manipulation? It would otherwise have drifted on and/or been replaced by a more aggressive yeast.

        In other news, most of the vines for wine grapes have been transplanted onto north american roots due to a blight that started in the 1850's [wikipedia.org]. To this day there are very few areas where vines can be grown on their original roots, Chile being

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward

          And yeasts have been cultured for a more predictable fermentation since it was discovered to be possible. Is the preservation of a certain yeast strain considered genetic manipulation?

          There is a bit of a difference between selective breeding to produce, say, tougher strains of plants which is a traditional form of genetic manipulation and the act of introducing, say, a gene from a bacteria into tomatoes that makes those tomatoes produce a natural pesticide. I am ready to compromise if we are talking about GM transplants of genes within a species, such as transplanting blight resistance genes from non wine producing blight resistant grapes to the wine making varieties since the blight res

    • Technically, as yeast is prohibited by that, no. If you mean the more current Biergesetz, then possibly, though GM foods are quite touchy in some areas.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Rheinheitsgebot is actually a load of old bollocks, and advertising old bollocks for all that.

      Anyone who thinks German brewers adhere to that these days needs their head testing.

      Go to Germany, look in the beer shops/bars, see Beer+orange or beer+cola to see just how far off the frigging Rheinheitsgebot modern German brewers actually are. It's utter tosh.

      Disclaimer: My bird is German, my nipper half German, and I drink Haake Beck when I'm there. She drinks Becks+Orange. Yuck.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Skal Tura (595728)

        Germans might be regard as brew masters, but we Finns have the best beer in world, Koff by Sinebrychoff, ranked multiple years in row as the best beer from tap.

        True or not, i don't know, but i do prefer Koff over anything else i've tasted. Foster's is damn good as well.

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Foster's is damn good as well.

          You have to be god-fucking-damn kidding me. The only people that drink this crap is tourists and airline passangers. We don't touch this shit in Australia, that's for sure. Try some _REAL_ Australian beer, like Alpha Pale Ale, Wicked Elf Pilsner or Nail Stout.

          • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

            by CoopersPale (444672)

            While we're talking about real Australian beer, try some Coopers, the last remaining brewer of the traditional Australian Sparkling Ale style. Some of the new micros have started to get interested in this style too - Bridge Road brewers brew an Australian Ale I believe - but Coopers have consistently brewed this ale for over 100 years.
            Another traditional Australian beer worth a shot is Tooheys Old.

            • by fifedrum (611338)

              just because the recipe is unchanged for 100 years doesn't mean it's good (Budweiser anyone?)

              the proof is in the taste. If YOU like it, it's good beer.

              • the proof is in the taste. If YOU like it, it's good beer.

                Blasphemy. Take your poor taste (pun included) back to St. Louis or Milwaukee, or wherever you honed that horrible taste in beer!

                • by fifedrum (611338)

                  I never said I LIKED BUD! I said an old recipe does not a good beer make.

                  But... some people do, and that's all that is required to make a beer "good".

                  Personally, a hoppy IPA is currently my favorite, one I brewed myself from hops grown in my own back yard. /beer god angry!

          • I second this, I'm in the UK where Fosters is massive (due to its cheapness) and it's nowt but piss water.
          • by icebrain (944107)

            Alpha Pale Ale, Wicked Elf Pilsner or Nail Stout

            Anyone know if this is available in the States? I mostly drink my own beer now that I've started brewing, but I'm always up to try something new...

        • by lahvak (69490)

          True or not, i don't know, but i do prefer Koff over anything else i've tasted.

          Hm, I was king of interested in Koff after reading this, deciding I have to try it some times, but then you wrote:

          Foster's is damn good as well.

          If Koff is anything like Foster's, I can happily live without it.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by DrgnDancer (137700)

          The Belgians brew the best beer in the world. Maybe not the best individual beer (though Leffe Tripel is awesome), but as a whole Belgian beer is top notch. German, British, and Irish aren't bad, but Belgian beer is better as a whole. I can't say I've ever had Finnish beer, and I might have to look up the one you mention.

          • The Belgians brew the best beer in the world.

            Agreed! Gulden Draak is my personal favorite.

          • by guruevi (827432)

            As a Belgian living in the US, I have to agree with this. Some stores here in the US (Wegmans, Tops) recently have gotten Belgian 'good beers' like Leffe (Dubbel and Triple), Duvel, Westmalle, Maredsous and Lambic as well as the 'bar-beers' like Hoegaarden and Stella Artois. My wife who doesn't like beer at all, likes the Framboise Lambic since it tastes similar to (but is heavier to digest than) a wine cooler. However beers in Belgium are even more varied and if you go to the good bars you can sometimes pi

            • by Rip Dick (1207150)

              (Wegmans, Tops)

              Are you living in Western New York? If so, try shopping for beer at a Consumer's Beverage Center. I used to go there all the time when I lived in Buffalo. They may not have 300 brands of Belgian brew, but certainly more variety than the supermarkets.

              (Go Bills)

            • by fifedrum (611338)

              Wegmans eh, they certainly have improved their selection. Beers Of The World (south side of Rochester) has a whole store full of just about anything you could wish.

              Strangely enough, there's a Hess gas station in Bushnell's Basin (near Rochester, on the Erie Canal) that has a wicked assortment of specialty brews including some of these same ones. Weird having such a great variety of beer in a gas station.

              Rochester has a huge number of home brewers.

        • by fractoid (1076465)

          Foster's is damn good as well.

          I'll have to go to Finland and try it then, I guess. I've tried Fosters in Singapore and in London and in neither place was it something I'd consider 'beer'.

          Australian microbrewery beer is awesome.

        • Last time I was in Finland I enjoyed the Lapin Kulta IV. It's been a while. I was a poor college student back then.

          Using an American keyboard: "Hoovah Suomi!"

        • but we Finns have the best beer in world

          The fine brewmasters of the Pacific Northwest (and California) would like to have a word with you. I'm willing to bet I can find more good beer from Portland, OR than I can the entire country of Finland.

      • by mazarin5 (309432)

        Anyone who thinks German brewers adhere to that these days needs their head testing.

        I tested it and it turns out German beer is 100% carbon dioxide!

    • If not, we'll just reprogram it, just like any other 'bot.
    • by Sloppy (14984)
      Who cares? Reinheitsgebot was a dumb idea.
    • by Sleepy (4551)

      Why not?
      The original Reinheitsgebot didn't even mention yeast, because no one knew of it's existence.

  • by mc1138 (718275) on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @05:58PM (#27679981) Homepage
    All other science to this point has solely been done as groundwork for better tasting beer.
    • Is better beer one of Ray Kurzweil's singularity events?
      • by marcus (1916)

        If all beer brewed subsequently is genetically engineered, then yes.

    • by Red Flayer (890720) on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @06:16PM (#27680155) Journal

      All other science to this point has solely been done as groundwork for better tasting beer.

      Yes, but only so far as better-tasting beer can help scientists get laid.

      THAT, my friend, is the true purpose of science.

      • by fractoid (1076465)

        THAT, my friend, is the true purpose of beer.

        There, that's better. :)

      • by Sleepy (4551)

        >>All other science to this point has solely been done as groundwork for better tasting beer.

        >Yes, but only so far as better-tasting beer can help scientists get laid.

        >THAT, my friend, is the true purpose of science.

        and MUSIC!

    • by Ungrounded Lightning (62228) on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @06:20PM (#27680211) Journal

      All other science to this point has solely been done as groundwork for better tasting beer.

      Which brings us full circle, since the development of agriculture (which led to the sedentary lifestyle, food surplus, and a leisure class with the time and resources to "do science") is believed (by some anthropologists) to have been primarily motivated by a desire to raise more grain for feeding to yeast in order to make beer (and, incidentally, bread).

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by pete-classic (75983)

        I've long said that corn is the dominant life-form on the planet. But you've opened my eyes to the truth: it's been the yeast all along.

        -Peter

      • by Sloppy (14984)
        To really be full circle, that explanation needs to somehow include networking technology and porn.
      • by Sleepy (4551)

        You jest, but actually one of the strongest theories for why man settled down from nomadic life... WAS because of beer.

    • by Loadmaster (720754) on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @06:21PM (#27680217) Homepage

      Just like when all nuclear physics came to a head when Young Albert Einstein, then a lanky youth on the island of Tazmania, split the atom finally putting bubbles in beer. So much work for such a great deed.

    • by mcrbids (148650) on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @06:23PM (#27680237) Journal

      Applied Science AKA "Engineering" exists to make life better. Air conditioning, blogging, better tasting beer. If not to make life just that little bit better, than for what?

      Sure, there are starving people in XYZ country, but they are starving precisely because they are NOT using engineering to make their lives better! Sure, you could donate the cost of that better-tasting beer and feed the starving kid for a few days... but then what?

      Feel free to donate to 3rd world countries (I do) but when you do, don't just throw money/food at them, donate your money towards programs that will improve their infrastructure. Things like education. (I personally sponsor to help aschool for kids in rural Haiti)

      And don't hesitate to enjoy that good-tasting franken-beer!

  • Backwards (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @06:10PM (#27680093)

    Damn fool BU geeks.
    You don't use genes to manipulate beer, you use beer to manipulate jeans.

    Kids these days....

    • Re: (Score:1, Redundant)

      by Majik Sheff (930627)

      *clap* *clap* I wish you had logged in before delivering that gem so I could mod you up.

    • by avm (660)

      People using beer to manipulate jeans undoubtedly resulted in these students using genes to manipulate beer. Hopefully said students will use the manipulated beer to manipulate jeans themselves, and spawn a whole new generation to carry on the cycle.

      • Yo, I heard you like to manipulate genes by manipulating jeans so i put some genes in your jeans so you can manipulate genes while you're manipulating jeans.

        THANKS 'ZIBIT!!

        Thanks, I'm here all week, try the veal!

  • by fragMasterFlash (989911) on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @06:24PM (#27680253)
    This would be a neat trick if it allowed brewing with yeasts that produced an English flavor profile yet had the high flocculation rates associated with American ale yeasts (Wyeast 1232 is the best compromise currently produced commercially, IMHO).
    • by Sleepy (4551)

      >(Wyeast 1232 is the best compromise currently produced commercially, IMHO)

      Wyeast 1232 is produced commercially? I found nothing ABOUT it in The Google...

      For English, I use 1275 (Burton), or Fermentis US-04. They're both awesome yeasts.

      For old style ales, Wyeast 1007 (even with UK malts) for the win.

  • by Satanboy (253169) on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @06:24PM (#27680257)

    if they can adjust speed of fermentation and can actually change the flavor of beer, this could mean a whole new market of beer flavors we haven't had the change to try!

    Imagine a skunky stout, or a crisp and light porter. . .

    the changes could be immense!

    (or maybe I'm just being silly)

    • by Joebert (946227)

      this could mean a whole new market of beer flavors we haven't had the change to try!

      Well then we better get out there with extra large cups and start collecting change for our future!

      Oh wait, that's right.

    • by The Finn (1547)
      you've obviously never used the whitbread (wyeast 1099) or Fuller's ESB (wyeast 1968) strains. both are incredibly flocculant.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by DerekLyons (302214)

      You're being silly - the flavor profiles of stout and porter (and many other beers, particularly dark one, for that matter) are derived almost exclusively from the malts used. Yeast can't make porter crisp and light, and even if it could it would then be a pale ale rather than a porter.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by mikeb (6025)

        Shome mishtake shurely?

        When I was at university we used to brew nearly all our own beer (a good friend of mine was an excellent amateur brewer). For a laugh we made a batch of bitter with Guinness yeast grown from a bottle of bottle-conditioned Guinness - you could still get it back in 1973.

        The bitter tasted STRONGLY like Guinness.

        Though I claim no expertise in the way that yeast flavours beer, that one experiment left a memory that has lasted to this day.

        • Almost certainly due to the power of suggestion - as the majority flavor of Guinness and other stouts comes almost solely from the deep roasted malts used.

    • by Sleepy (4551)

      All this is already out there in the form of hundreds of yeast strains.

      FYI
      Skunky comes from UV rays interacting with hops. That's why the only beers that ship in clear bottles are low-hop. (Those still get skunky though).

      Porters are light to begin with (relative to a stout), so a crisp and light porter would basically be a Dark Mild.

      Milds are awesome, and one of the cheapest, easiest and fastest brews to make.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Didn't read the article.

    I'm not sure how flocculation affects the flavor of the beer. Most of the flavor components in beer due to yeast are a result of the yeast digesting the sugars (and other various chemicals in the wort).

    It's been well known for for quite some time that some strains of brewers yeast flocculate more than others (Thames valley I'm looking at you).

    And besides...better beer? It's all in personal preference. Some people love crazy belgian beers (YAY) for their odd flavors (hint...it's th

  • by Greg_D (138979) on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @06:31PM (#27680337)

    ... selling this technology to the cigar or wine industries.

    Because of terroir, different regions are going to have different climates and different soil content to produce different tasting or different quality products.

    But imagine being able to grow a grape in Sonoma or some cigar tobacco in Honduras and have them taste just as if they had come from France or Cuba respectively by genetically engineering a strain. Sure, some would want and have the option to keep their wines and cigars just the way they currently are. But for those who desire a taste that is currently well outside of their price range or (in the case of Cuban cigars) illegal due to embargo, this would be a boon.

    There is, for example, a stark difference between Cuban tobacco from before and after 1996. Why? They changed from using corojo tobacco to a corojo/cigarette tobacco hybrid that would withstand mold. The flavor and richness are not the same anymore. But perhaps with some genetic tweaking, they can create a strain which is resistant to the mold AND shares the same flavor characteristics as the old corojo leaf.

    So even at the top of the ladder, there is room for improvement.

    Also, I'd like to volunteer my services to test their beer.

    • It isn't just genetics. Don't forget that soil composition plays a huge part.
    • by chooks (71012)

      Because of terroir, different regions are going to have different climates and different soil content to produce different tasting or different quality products.

      Hmmm. But wouldn't that make them terroirists?

      Thanks folks. I'm here every Wednesday. Try the veal

    • But imagine being able to grow a grape in Sonoma or some cigar tobacco in Honduras and have them taste just as if they had come from France or Cuba respectively by genetically engineering a strain.

      Why would you want to take excellent Californian wine and make it taste like French wine?

      • by Lissajous (989738)

        Mod points, mod points, my kingdom for some mod points!

        The beauty of wine is that it's all different. Year, to year, country to country, region to region, vinyard to vinyard. Hell, even bottle to bottle.

        There's all too little art in the world...can't you people leave the art of fermentation alone?

        (Darn kids...get off my terroir)

      • by Greg_D (138979)

        I believe I covered that in my post. Some would want the wine to remain the same, and there would be a market for it. Others might desire the ability to get wine that tastes like it comes from a French vineyard without paying like it. Sometimes, you have an advantage because your reputation precedes you. Other times, you have an advantage because of where you happen to be. Both tend to be the case for French wines. By eliminating the terroir factor as much as possible, you can then focus on competing

  • Beer is already at MAX_DELICIOUS, any additional incrementation will cause overflow.

  • by Animats (122034) on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @07:01PM (#27680661) Homepage

    The hype: Skyy Vodka [skyy.com]

    The reality: Skyy Vodka is a marketing company. Manufacturing is outsourced. They buy bulk ethanol from a MGP Ingredients [mgpingredients.com] (formerly Midwest Solvents Company) plant in Pekin, IL. MGP makes ethanol for beverage and industrial purposes. They used to sell ethanol for fuel, too, but that ended in February 2009 due to financial losses; their production costs were too high for fuel use.

    The ethanol is pumped into tank cars and shipped by rail to Frank-Lin Distillers Products [frank-lin.com] in San Jose, CA., which has their own railroad sidings. Frank-Lin bottles, along with Skyy Vodka, most of the low-end booze on the West Coast. They make everything from brandy to whiskey, by mixing ethanol, water, and flavoring. They make over a thousand different "brands", although they only have about a hundred different recipes.

    Frank-Lin is very automated. They have automated bottling lines that can change from one bottle and product to another without human intervention, and equally flexible packaging systems. So they can create the illusion of thousands of products, all coming from one plant.

    It's all just flavored ethanol. Deal with it.

    • It's all just flavored ethanol. Deal with it.

      I choose to deal with it by drinking delicious Skyy vodka screwdrivers, using delicious MGP ethanol.

      Anyway, it's somewhat inaccurate to say MGP manufactures the ethanol. The yeasts do most of the hard work I would assume.

    • It's all just flavored ethanol. Deal with it.

      Not Bourbon. Mmmmmmmmmmm Bourbon. I miss you buddy.

    • by Zalbik (308903) on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @07:46PM (#27681103)

      And this has to do with beer production exactly how?

      Sure the big beer producers do something very similar...fast fermenting yeast to produce ethanol, add flavor and coloring to make it taste like bubbly yellow piss.

      However, there are many many microbreweries across the US and Canada that still brew beer basically the old fashioned way. It's just unfortunate that the typical North American still prefers the crap the big breweries produce.

      • by pwizard2 (920421)

        It's just unfortunate that the typical North American still prefers the crap the big breweries produce.

        It's not really about preference, it's just that most of them don't know any better. Their tastes never matured past their beer-swilling college days. I went through my macrobrew phase during my early college years, but by junior year I was drinking better stuff exclusively even though it cost more.

        • It's not really about preference, it's just that most of them don't know any better.

          I've never met anyone who prefers the taste of Bud/Miller/Coors; we all have a favorite "good" beer. Cheap domestics are all about practicality. They hit a price/taste sweet spot, so if you like the taste of beer, it "just works". It also come in cans, which makes it ever more convenient for outdoor activities.

          Americans like beer, not just certain beers.

          • by pwizard2 (920421)
            But there are good domestics that cost about the same as Miller/Bud/Coors but are much better. Ever try Yuengling? (that's one of my budget-price staple beers, < $6.50 for a 6-pack) No cans, though.
            • So true. Yuengling is great, Black and Tan is my favorite of the beers they brew. My personal list of other good American beers with fairly good distribution throughout the states:

              - Widmer (from Oregon)

              - Ithaca Beer Company's Apricot Wheat (from New York)

              - Dale's Pale Ale (from Colorado)

              - Brooklyn Lager (also from New York)

              - Anything from Ommegang Brewery (New York again)

              Widmer is a fantastic summer beer, Brooklyn Lager goes really well with hamburgers, Ommegang makes Three Philosophers which is my favori

              • by pwizard2 (920421)
                I'll agree with you, Widmer is great for a domestic hefewiezen, most other domestic wheat beers are too lemony from my experience. The only thing better than Widmer in my opinion is a good German import like Paulaner or Franziskaner if you can get them. I'll have to try some of the other stuff on your list.

                Ever had Czechvar?
                • Is Czechvar the same thing as Budvar? When I was in Prague, they only had three beers. Staropramen, Czechvar?, and Urquell. And as much as I love Oregon beers, nothing beats a Paulaner from the tap at an outdoor Munich beer garden in May.
          • I look forward to another ally in attempting to talk sense to beer geeks. I feel I should tell you now...I do not think we can win.
        • by Chelloveck (14643)

          I've met many people who prefer the taste of Bud/Miller/Coors over everything else. They're called my in-laws, and all their relatives who show up at family reunions.

          Seriously. It's not an economic decision for them. I've offered them the good stuff, for free. I've spiked the communal cooler with various micro-brews alongside the piss-water. They really don't like it. Maybe their tastes have "never matured past their beer-swilling college days". Maybe it's just what they're used to. But whatever the reaso

          • Certainly you'd be able to discern fresh, chef-prepared seafood over frozen fish sticks though. And certainly anyone with a brain cell would prefer fresh chef-prepared seafood to Long John Silvers? If not, you probably prefer Coors Light to a good beer as well.
            • by Chelloveck (14643)

              That's exactly my point. Sure, I'd be able to discern the difference. But unless this chef could made the seafood taste like something else entirely (and then, what would be the point of serving it?) I'd probably go with the Long John Silvers. At least that would taste like breading and tartar sauce, both of which I rather like.

              I can tell the difference, I just don't enjoy the "good" stuff. It's not a stretch for me to imagine that other people feel the same way about beer. On the other hand, I avoid Long

        • I hate the "cost" argument. Last I checked, a 6-pack of piss beer (Bud, for example) was about $4. A fine microwbrew (Full Sail Ale, for example) is only $6. Are college students so strapped they can't afford $.33 per beer more? More importantly, it takes about 8 Bud Lites to get the same buzz you'd get from two Full Sail Ales.

          I suppose I could turn this into a Mac - PC argument analogy. Since you can buy something like 24 CANS of Bud Lite for something like $10, and you can't buy good microbrew exce

      • Depends where you live. Here in Austin (not necessarily the beer mecca of America) I have more "microbrew" options than I do the standard piss-water Anheiser-Bush/Miller garbage. Of course, we also have loads of piss-water Mexican beer as well, but I'm perfectly happy as a Pacific Northwesterner living in Austin.
    • Sacrilege though it may sound, I don't give a toss if Teacher's or Glenlivet becomes some flavoured powder added to water and ethanol, as long as I can't taste the difference to what it used to be. Mind you, I think in the EU they have some strict laws against this, so you can't sell a Scotch unless it's actually been fermented in a barrel for 3 years or what have you. I've never looked at it, I just like the taste of (Scotch) whisky. Anyway, vodka is absolutely characterless, so I'm not surprised you can m
    • by cerberusss (660701) on Thursday April 23, 2009 @04:10AM (#27684163) Homepage Journal

      It's all just flavored ethanol. Deal with it.

      Pop a bottle of real champagne and share it with the wife. This stuff isn't 'just flavored ethanol', I'm telling you, it's bottled love potion.

    • by 16Chapel (998683)
      Well, they know their market: their tedious Flash loading anim counts up from "0% loaded" to "100% loaded"...
  • haze and tannins (Score:3, Interesting)

    by bcrowell (177657) on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @07:25PM (#27680901) Homepage

    For more information than you'll probably ever want about beer brewing, see How to Brew, by John Palmer (free online [howtobrew.com], also available in print).

    Although the Palmer book is for homebrewers, apparently getting rid of haze is something that commercial breweries are extremely interested in, and they spend millions of dollars on research. As far as I can tell, it would mainly be an issue for American-style lagers (e.g., Budweiser), which are transparent enough that the haze would be noticeable. However, tannins and haze can also correlate with taste and shelf life (oxidation). As a homebrewer, I've never really worried about it much.

    I'm not clear on why they want to use genetic modification to control when flocculation happens. There are tons of varieties of yeast that you can buy, and one of the criteria you apply when you're selecting a strain of yeast is how alcohol-tolerant it is. A less alcohol-tolerant strain will respond earlier to the stress of the alcohol by flocculating out. Since there are already so many different strains with different flocculation properties, I don't really see what the genetic modification gains you.

    • Since there are already so many different strains with different flocculation properties, I don't really see what the genetic modification gains you.

      Perhaps you have a strain with the desired flavor profile, but it is a poor flocculator. It may be much cheaper to engineer that strain to flocculate well than to try to develop a strain with the same flavor profile but high flocculation.

      Flavor profile + attenuation + flocculation... it may be very hard to get all three the way you want them without engineer

  • by bensafrickingenius (828123) on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @07:25PM (#27680903)
    the "Library Grape," http://anathem.wikia.com/wiki/Library_grape [wikia.com] from Neil Stephenson's Anathem. I happen to be re-reading it right now, and just got through the dissertation on the Library Grape yesterday. I love coincidences like these.
  • developed a way to predict the behavior or different DNA segments

    The typo's suggest the poster already tasted some of that beer :>

    • by c6gunner (950153)

      Yes. I also liked this phrase:

      Like any self-respected bunch of grad students

      Apparently it's impossible to write about alcohol research without first sampling some of the experimental results.

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