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More flavours for beer thanks to new strains of yeast

An EU-backed initiative developed yeasts that will give beer new flavours.

Society
Fundamental Research

Flavour and aroma play a central role in our perception of beer and wine. Both result from complex metabolic reactions that occur during fermentations performed by yeasts. Understanding how yeasts contribute to beer and wine’s complex flavours and aromas is key to improving existing fermentation technology and developing new flavoursome beverages. The kind of yeast used in fermentation affects how a beer tastes when it has been brewed. Currently, ale and lager are the two main categories of yeasts, along with hundreds of variations used by today’s brewers in a growing global industry. Ever since the 1800s, developing yeasts to give new flavours has been an objective of many brewers.

Fertile yeast hybrids with diverse genetic traits

Scientists partly supported by the EU-funded Aromagenesis project have developed novel fertile hybrid yeast strains. These fertile yeast hybrids offer the beverage industry novel and exciting options for flavours, aromas and brewing methods. The research was published in the journal ‘Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences’. The newly created hybrid yeast strains demonstrated that they can effectively breed and produce offspring with specific desirable features needed for the beverage manufacturing process. “This technology has the ability to revolutionise the current practices for strain selection by allowing, via breeding, the rapid creation of efficient tailored yeasts carrying specific, novel, and important traits,” lead author Daniela Delneri, professor of evolutionary genomics at project participant The University of Manchester, United Kingdom, explained in a press release by the same institution. “As well as opening opportunities in food and drink production, this approach could be used to develop novel yeast ‘cell factories’ that could be used in the field of industrial biotechnology to sustainably biomanufacture pharmaceuticals, chemicals and fuels.”

New yeast strains for flavoured beer

Prof. Delneri added: “This research demonstrates how the potential for enhancing natural biodiversity and developing new hybrids is greater than expected and will offer new ways for industry to generate new and exciting consumer choices.” Anheuser-Busch InBev – the world’s largest brewer – also partly funded the research. “We are excited by these findings and pleased to have been able to support this research,” commented chief scientist Dr Philippe Malcorps. “The proof of concept opens doors to new innovations we can bring to our portfolio offering exciting new flavours via fermentation.” Overall, the goal of Aromagenesis (Generation of new yeast strains for improved flavours and aromas in beer and wine) is to understand, characterise and improve the flavour of fermented beverages such as beer and wine. The project ends in May 2022. For more information, please see: Aromagenesis project website

Keywords

Aromagenesis, flavour, aroma, beer, wine, yeast, yeast strain, fermentation, ale, lager

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