Are Brewers Ditching Hops and Why?

Science and technology have advanced brewing to a place that even the most forward-thinking drinkers couldn’t have imagined. But scientists are also working day and night to try to eliminate one veer ingredient from the brewing world.

Researchers at the University of California Berkley say that by manipulating the genes of brewing yeast they believe they can create a more sustainable beer. By eliminating that most tasty of bitter weeds, the hops.

For more history of beer check our new article Beer History – Louis Pasteur and his Revenge.

The Importance of Hops in Beer

A glass of dark stout beer surrounded by hop flowers.

The idea of beers bittered without hops has started to intrigue the public. For little over a 1000 yeast people have been adding a bitter bite to their beers using hops. Hops are a great crop with which to bitter beer. Not only because they taste and smell good but because they grow in many regions around the world. And they have antibacterial properties that prevent beer spoilage.

In the modern world of beer, there are hundreds of hop varieties that can lend a variety of tastes and aromas to beer. Howps actually tend to grow well in very wet places for a good reason. They require a lot of water to grow. So they don’t make beer the most sustainable beverage choice when it comes to the environment.

What are other options?

Hops vines on a hops farm.

Hops tend to be an inconsistent product when it comes to beer production. The taste and the aromatic quality of hops can be easily impacted. Hops are expensive to store, transport and process. They are one of the most expensive crops to harvest.

Researchers believe that they have found a way for yeast to bring some of the bitterness that is normally supplied by the hops. They have taken some of the gene sequences from plants like mint and basil that have their own aromatic bittering compounds. And have spliced those into yeast cells. this has created a new strain of yeast that while fermenting the wort and eating all sugars creates bittering compounds similar to those alpha acids present in hops.

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