Posted by hayatnorimine at huffingtonpost.com and seattlepi.com
â€œItâ€™s gotta be a joke,â€ White Labs Communications Director Mike White thought when he first heard about it.
Well, weâ€™re all with him there. But itâ€™s confirmed, folks. What started out as a joke â€” White Labs put Rogue brewmaster John Maierâ€™s beard hair on petri dishes just for kicks â€” became a very real yeast strain perfect for brewing.
Come early 2013, look out for Rogueâ€™s new beer called â€œNew Crustacean.â€ It is, I kid you not, made out of a Rogue brewmasterâ€™s beard.
I wish I didnâ€™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 hopyardâ€™s three samples that were sent to White Labs came back negative. White Labs then took nine follicles of Maierâ€™s beard and put them on petri dishes; thatâ€™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 doesnâ€™t require sunlight, consumes sugars, and grows best in an environment with a neutral to slightly acidic pH.
In retrospect, itâ€™s not surprising that Maierâ€™s beard is capable of growing fungi. I havenâ€™t seen the thing, but if heâ€™s been growing it since 1978 (according to Rogueâ€™s blog), then Iâ€™m sure the beardâ€™s hiding a few other wondrous discoveries as well.