Posted by hayatnorimine at huffingtonpost.com and seattlepi.com
“It’s gotta be a joke,” White Labs Communications Director Mike White thought when he first heard about it.
Well, we’re all with him there. But it’s confirmed, folks. What started out as a joke — White Labs put Rogue brewmaster John Maier’s beard hair on petri dishes just for kicks — became a very real yeast strain perfect for brewing.
Come early 2013, look out for Rogue’s new beer called “New Crustacean.” It is, I kid you not, made out of a Rogue brewmaster’s beard.
I wish I didn’t know so I could try it in peace.
Rogue Ales and Spirits initially wanted to grow a new yeast strain out of its own hops, but the hopyard’s three samples that were sent to White Labs came back negative. White Labs then took nine follicles of Maier’s beard and put them on petri dishes; that’s where the surprise came in.
Yeast converts wort (an unfermented mixture of sugars, proteins, and other compounds) into carbon dioxide, alcohols, and aroma and flavor, and what a new yeast strain gives is a new set of aroma and flavor compounds. (More information can be found here.)
A few quick points about what yeast needs in order to grow: It doesn’t require sunlight, consumes sugars, and grows best in an environment with a neutral to slightly acidic pH.
In retrospect, it’s not surprising that Maier’s beard is capable of growing fungi. I haven’t seen the thing, but if he’s been growing it since 1978 (according to Rogue’s blog), then I’m sure the beard’s hiding a few other wondrous discoveries as well.