IPA Without Hops

Beer wouldn’t be possible without the fabulous fungus that is yeast, which converts sugars into alcohol through fermentation. Scientists from the University of California-Berkeley have figured out how to make the microbe do double duty and add hoppy flavors to a lab-made pale ale that didn’t include any actual hops in the recipe.

Two (presumably beer-loving) scientists first isolated the various oils naturally produced by hops, the flowers of the Humulus lupulus plant, which gives hoppy beer its bitter flavor. Then, they sought out other plants that naturally produce these same oils, and isolated the genes responsible. Once those genes were isolated, the scientists used them to genetically modify the DNA of brewer’s yeast so that the fungi would produce the same bitter oils. After a number of trial brews, they found that genes from a mint and basil worked best when spliced into a strain of brewer’s yeast.

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