CLOSE
Original image
iStock

From Test Tube to Tavern: London Craft Brewery Uses DNA Testing to Create Bespoke Beer 

Original image
iStock

If you’re willing to shell out nearly $31,000 for a bespoke brew, The Drinks Business reports that Meantime Brewing Company, a London-based craft beer company, is now offering customers the chance to create a beer that appeals specifically to their individual flavor profiles by using DNA testing.

Meantime Brewing Company has joined forces with genetics company 23andMe to make custom beverages, which they’re advertising as “the world’s most personalized beer.” Dubbed “Meantime Bespoke,” the service begins with 23andMe’s scientists, who test beer lovers’ saliva samples for hereditary variations in oral taste receptors (which involves a taste gene called TAS2R38). This helps identify genetic variants that may determine whether drinkers are disposed toward certain flavor profiles—think sweetness or bitterness—in beer. (This is reportedly determined in part based on customers’ sensitivity to a bitter compound called 6-n-propylthiouracil.)

Once your genetic makeup is analyzed, Meantime’s brewers will use the scientists’ findings to guide the brewing process. You’ll consult with a brewmaster to contribute feedback, and ensure that the final product is exactly suited to your liking. If you want, you can even partake in the fun by adding hops and grain to the mix and testing it. (To ensure your skills are up to snuff, your commissioning cost also pays for a beer-making course called “The Knowledge.”)

After the brewing process is complete, customers are supplied with more than 2000 pints of customized beer. For an additional fee, they can personalize the packaging design, purchase custom glassware, or have their personalized brew poured in Meantime’s tasting rooms and have kegs sent to their local bar.

So far, there are no testimonials from customers on whether Meantime Bespoke’s science-inspired venture really produces the perfect pint. But according to Meantime, their head brewer, Ciaran Giblin, recently became the world's first person to create his own beer inspired by his DNA flavor profile. He prefers bitter tastes, so he ended up with a hoppy Double IPA.

[h/t The Drinks Business]

Original image
iStock
arrow
science
Why Adding Water to Your Whiskey Makes It Taste Better
Original image
iStock

Don’t ever let people tease you for watering down your whiskey. If they’re true aficionados, they’ll know that adding a splash of water or a few cubes of ice to your drink will actually enhance its natural flavors. But how can something as flavorless as water make a barrel-aged scotch or bourbon taste even better? Chemists think they’ve found the answer.

As The Verge reports, researchers from the Linnæus University Centre for Biomaterials Chemistry in Sweden analyzed the molecular composition of whiskey in the presence of water. We already know that the molecule guaiacol is largely responsible for whiskey’s smoky taste and aroma. Guaiacol bonds to alcohol molecules, which means that in straight whiskey that guaiacol flavor will be fairly evenly distributed throughout the cask. Alcohol is repelled by water, and guaiacol partially so. That means when a splash of water is added to the beverage the alcohol gets pushed to the surface, dragging the guaiacol along with it. Concentrated at the top of the glass, the whiskey’s distinctive taste and scent is in the perfect position to be noticed by the drinker.

According to the team’s experiments, which they laid out in the journal Scientific Reports [PDF], whiskey that’s been diluted down to 40 percent to 45 percent alcohol content will start to show more guaiacol sloshing near the surface. Most commercial whiskey is already diluted before it's bottled, so the drink you order in a bar should fall within this range to begin with. Adding additional water or ice will boost the flavor-enhancing effect even further.

As for just how much water to add, the paper doesn’t specify. Whiskey lovers will just have to conduct some experiments of their own to see which ratios suit their palate.

[h/t NPR]

Original image
iStock
arrow
Big Questions
If Beer and Bread Use Almost the Exact Same Ingredients, Why Isn't Bread Alcoholic?
Original image
iStock

If beer and bread use almost the exact same ingredients (minus hops) why isn't bread alcoholic?

Josh Velson:

All yeast breads contain some amount of alcohol. Have you ever smelled a rising loaf of bread or, better yet, smelled the air underneath dough that has been covered while rising? It smells really boozy. And that sweet smell that fresh-baked bread has under the yeast and nutty Maillard reaction notes? Alcohol.

However, during the baking process, most of the alcohol in the dough evaporates into the atmosphere. This is basically the same thing that happens to much of the water in the dough as well. And it’s long been known that bread contains residual alcohol—up to 1.9 percent of it. In the 1920s, the American Chemical Society even had a set of experimenters report on it.

Anecdotally, I’ve also accidentally made really boozy bread by letting a white bread dough rise for too long. The end result was that not enough of the alcohol boiled off, and the darned thing tasted like alcohol. You can also taste alcohol in the doughy bits of underbaked white bread, which I categorically do not recommend you try making.

Putting on my industrial biochemistry hat here, many [people] claim that alcohol is only the product of a “starvation process” on yeast once they run out of oxygen. That’s wrong.

The most common brewers and bread yeasts, of the Saccharomyces genus (and some of the Brettanomyces genus, also used to produce beer), will produce alcohol in both a beer wort
and in bread dough immediately, regardless of aeration. This is actually a surprising result, as it runs counter to what is most efficient for the cell (and, incidentally, the simplistic version of yeast biology that is often taught to home brewers). The expectation would be that the cell would perform aerobic respiration (full conversion of sugar and oxygen to carbon dioxide and water) until oxygen runs out, and only then revert to alcoholic fermentation, which runs without oxygen but produces less energy.

Instead, if a Saccharomyces yeast finds itself in a high-sugar environment, regardless of the presence of air it will start producing ethanol, shunting sugar into the anaerobic respiration pathway while still running the aerobic process in parallel. This phenomenon is known as the Crabtree effect, and is speculated to be an adaptation to suppress competing organisms
in the high-sugar environment because ethanol has antiseptic properties that yeasts are tolerant to but competitors are not. It’s a quirk of Saccharomyces biology that you basically only learn about if you spent a long time doing way too much yeast cell culture … like me.

This post originally appeared on Quora. Click here to view.

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios