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Designing DNA Circuits To Brew Tastier Beer

timothy posted about 5 years ago | from the but-can-they-make-beer-taste-good? dept.

Biotech 135

Al writes "Researchers at Boston University have developed a way to predict the behavior of different DNA segments and make synthetic biology a little bit more reliable. James Collins and colleagues have built libraries of component parts and a mathematical modeling system to help them predict the behavior of parts of a gene network. Like any self-respected bunch of grad students, they decided to demonstrate the approach by making beer. They engineered gene promoters to control when flocculation occurs in brewers yeast, which allowed them to finely control the flavor of the resulting beer."

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135 comments

Dear God! (4, Funny)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 5 years ago | (#27679893)

Somebody must stop them... Before they produce the beverage man was not meant to brew!

Re:Dear God! (4, Funny)

Gat0r30y (957941) | about 5 years ago | (#27679945)

Before they produce the beverage man was not meant to brew!

Key light?

Re:Dear God! (5, Funny)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 5 years ago | (#27679979)

These are synthetic biologists, not Nephrologists...

Re:Dear God! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27680085)

Lunix just isn't ready for the desktop yet. It may be ready for the web servers that you nerds use to distribute your TRON fanzines and personal Dungeons and Dragons web-sights across the world wide web, but the average computer user isn't going to spend months learning how to use a CLI and then hours compiling packages so that they can get a workable graphic interface to check their mail with, especially not when they already have a Windows machine that does its job perfectly well and is backed by a major corporation, as opposed to Linux which is only supported by a few unemployed nerds living in their mother's basement somewhere. The last thing I want is a level 5 dwarf (haha) providing me my OS.

Re:Dear God! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27681279)

Lunix just isn't ready for the desktop yet.

No shit, Lunix [wikipedia.org] is really old, why are you stating the obvious? What an idiot.

Purity (3, Interesting)

oldspewey (1303305) | about 5 years ago | (#27679969)

A philosophical question: can beer brewed using genetically engineered yeast still be pure according to Reinheitsgebot [wikipedia.org] ?

Re:Purity (4, Insightful)

QRDeNameland (873957) | about 5 years ago | (#27680057)

Being that the Reinheitsgebot doesn't even mention yeast (as its existence and role in fermentation were unknown in 1516), I'd have to say "yes".

Re:Purity (4, Informative)

Nidi62 (1525137) | about 5 years ago | (#27681701)

The Reinheitsgebot was actually amended to allow yeast as an ingredient once it was understood the central role yeast plays in brewing.(According to a Bavarian brewer on a History channel special on beer, as well as this website:http://oldemeckbrew.com/Beer/reinheitsgebot.php)

Re:Purity (2, Insightful)

dontmakemethink (1186169) | about 5 years ago | (#27682713)

And yeasts have been cultured for a more predictable fermentation since it was discovered to be possible. Is the preservation of a certain yeast strain considered genetic manipulation? It would otherwise have drifted on and/or been replaced by a more aggressive yeast.

In other news, most of the vines for wine grapes have been transplanted onto north american roots due to a blight that started in the 1850's [wikipedia.org] . To this day there are very few areas where vines can be grown on their original roots, Chile being one of the largest, and certain valleys in Australia. Not many vines with roots that can resist the blight produce desired grapes for wine either.

So botanical and microbial modifications are hardly new to the production of alcohol, it would be surprising if barley and hops weren't already genetically modified for yield, resilience, and/or flavor, just like many food crops are.

Re:Purity (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27684271)

Is the preservation of a certain yeast strain considered genetic manipulation?

No, it's intelligent design. ;)

Re:Purity (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27685745)

And yeasts have been cultured for a more predictable fermentation since it was discovered to be possible. Is the preservation of a certain yeast strain considered genetic manipulation?

There is a bit of a difference between selective breeding to produce, say, tougher strains of plants which is a traditional form of genetic manipulation and the act of introducing, say, a gene from a bacteria into tomatoes that makes those tomatoes produce a natural pesticide. I am ready to compromise if we are talking about GM transplants of genes within a species, such as transplanting blight resistance genes from non wine producing blight resistant grapes to the wine making varieties since the blight resistant non wine producing grapes are probably still edible and have been consumed by humans for millennia. When it comes to the more outrageous genetic modification experiments Pro GM evangelists can argue for the rest of their natural lives that this pesticide is harmless to humans but I still ain't eating anything that has been treated in any way with a pesticide that I can't was off with water. The even more outrageous triumphs of GM technology like "Terminator gene" that prevents crops from being resown is quite simply an abomination.

Re:Purity (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27685869)

you mean a lucrative abomination!

Re:Purity (1)

twidarkling (1537077) | about 5 years ago | (#27680069)

Technically, as yeast is prohibited by that, no. If you mean the more current Biergesetz, then possibly, though GM foods are quite touchy in some areas.

Re:Purity (2, Insightful)

Finallyjoined!!! (1158431) | about 5 years ago | (#27680251)

Rheinheitsgebot is actually a load of old bollocks, and advertising old bollocks for all that.

Anyone who thinks German brewers adhere to that these days needs their head testing.

Go to Germany, look in the beer shops/bars, see Beer+orange or beer+cola to see just how far off the frigging Rheinheitsgebot modern German brewers actually are. It's utter tosh.

Disclaimer: My bird is German, my nipper half German, and I drink Haake Beck when I'm there. She drinks Becks+Orange. Yuck.

Re:Purity (2, Funny)

Skal Tura (595728) | about 5 years ago | (#27680705)

Germans might be regard as brew masters, but we Finns have the best beer in world, Koff by Sinebrychoff, ranked multiple years in row as the best beer from tap.

True or not, i don't know, but i do prefer Koff over anything else i've tasted. Foster's is damn good as well.

Re:Purity (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27680877)

Foster's is damn good as well.

You have to be god-fucking-damn kidding me. The only people that drink this crap is tourists and airline passangers. We don't touch this shit in Australia, that's for sure. Try some _REAL_ Australian beer, like Alpha Pale Ale, Wicked Elf Pilsner or Nail Stout.

Re:Purity (2, Informative)

CoopersPale (444672) | about 5 years ago | (#27681199)

While we're talking about real Australian beer, try some Coopers, the last remaining brewer of the traditional Australian Sparkling Ale style. Some of the new micros have started to get interested in this style too - Bridge Road brewers brew an Australian Ale I believe - but Coopers have consistently brewed this ale for over 100 years.
Another traditional Australian beer worth a shot is Tooheys Old.

Re:Purity (1)

fifedrum (611338) | about 5 years ago | (#27685937)

just because the recipe is unchanged for 100 years doesn't mean it's good (Budweiser anyone?)

the proof is in the taste. If YOU like it, it's good beer.

Re:Purity (1)

icebrain (944107) | about 5 years ago | (#27684941)

Alpha Pale Ale, Wicked Elf Pilsner or Nail Stout

Anyone know if this is available in the States? I mostly drink my own beer now that I've started brewing, but I'm always up to try something new...

Re:Purity (1)

lahvak (69490) | about 5 years ago | (#27681043)

True or not, i don't know, but i do prefer Koff over anything else i've tasted.

Hm, I was king of interested in Koff after reading this, deciding I have to try it some times, but then you wrote:

Foster's is damn good as well.

If Koff is anything like Foster's, I can happily live without it.

Re:Purity (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27684629)

That man doesn't have a taste for a good beer, as Koff is pretty crap also, if you visit Finland, try some Karhu (my fav) instead.

Re:Purity (2, Informative)

DrgnDancer (137700) | about 5 years ago | (#27681863)

The Belgians brew the best beer in the world. Maybe not the best individual beer (though Leffe Tripel is awesome), but as a whole Belgian beer is top notch. German, British, and Irish aren't bad, but Belgian beer is better as a whole. I can't say I've ever had Finnish beer, and I might have to look up the one you mention.

Re:Purity (1)

guruevi (827432) | about 5 years ago | (#27683029)

As a Belgian living in the US, I have to agree with this. Some stores here in the US (Wegmans, Tops) recently have gotten Belgian 'good beers' like Leffe (Dubbel and Triple), Duvel, Westmalle, Maredsous and Lambic as well as the 'bar-beers' like Hoegaarden and Stella Artois. My wife who doesn't like beer at all, likes the Framboise Lambic since it tastes similar to (but is heavier to digest than) a wine cooler. However beers in Belgium are even more varied and if you go to the good bars you can sometimes pick from up to 300 brands in stock.

German beer is for the most part sour which I don't like (although Bock is acceptable) and the British can't drink after 10 and their beer isn't cold. The Irish have very good beer (draughts, stouts and lagers like Guinness, Kilkenny). Finland might have good beers but last time I was over there they seem to charge over EUR 15 for a bottle which I didn't want to pay.

Re:Purity (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27685331)

Finland might have good beers but last time I was over there they seem to charge over EUR 15 for a bottle which I didn't want to pay.

EUR 15 for a bottle? You've been had. You can buy 24 cans for 21euros from the local supermarkets, or 2-5euros for a 0.5l pint.

Re:Purity (1)

Rip Dick (1207150) | about 5 years ago | (#27685625)

(Wegmans, Tops)

Are you living in Western New York? If so, try shopping for beer at a Consumer's Beverage Center. I used to go there all the time when I lived in Buffalo. They may not have 300 brands of Belgian brew, but certainly more variety than the supermarkets.

(Go Bills)

Re:Purity (1)

fifedrum (611338) | about 5 years ago | (#27685963)

Wegmans eh, they certainly have improved their selection. Beers Of The World (south side of Rochester) has a whole store full of just about anything you could wish.

Strangely enough, there's a Hess gas station in Bushnell's Basin (near Rochester, on the Erie Canal) that has a wicked assortment of specialty brews including some of these same ones. Weird having such a great variety of beer in a gas station.

Rochester has a huge number of home brewers.

Re:Purity (1)

fractoid (1076465) | about 5 years ago | (#27683519)

Foster's is damn good as well.

I'll have to go to Finland and try it then, I guess. I've tried Fosters in Singapore and in London and in neither place was it something I'd consider 'beer'.

Australian microbrewery beer is awesome.

Re:Purity (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27683901)

Foster's is damn good as well.

Fosters!
It's Australian for Budweiser!
    (aka Horse Piss)

Finnish Beer (1)

marcus (1916) | about 5 years ago | (#27686757)

Last time I was in Finland I enjoyed the Lapin Kulta IV. It's been a while. I was a poor college student back then.

Using an American keyboard: "Hoovah Suomi!"

Re:Purity (1)

mazarin5 (309432) | about 5 years ago | (#27681593)

Anyone who thinks German brewers adhere to that these days needs their head testing.

I tested it and it turns out German beer is 100% carbon dioxide!

Re:Purity (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27684757)

Beck's? Really? If you must drink the unexciting nationally-available Pils, at least try Warsteiner or Krombacher.

True application of science (4, Insightful)

mc1138 (718275) | about 5 years ago | (#27679981)

All other science to this point has solely been done as groundwork for better tasting beer.

Re:True application of science (4, Funny)

Red Flayer (890720) | about 5 years ago | (#27680155)

All other science to this point has solely been done as groundwork for better tasting beer.

Yes, but only so far as better-tasting beer can help scientists get laid.

THAT, my friend, is the true purpose of science.

Re:True application of science (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27685469)

All other science to this point has solely been done as groundwork for better tasting beer.

Yes, but only so far as better-tasting beer can help scientists get laid.

THAT, my friend, is the true purpose of science.

Well shit. After a phd and working in the field and NOW you tell me! I knew I should have studied psycology instead of physics; more women, less math and women don't go screaming for the hills when you mention the degree.

Re:True application of science (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27685675)

A woman generally shouldn't hear about your education experience until after you've nailed her box to the floor. Maybe you would have better success with girls if you displayed some personality rather than reciting your resume...

Which brings us full circle (4, Insightful)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | about 5 years ago | (#27680211)

All other science to this point has solely been done as groundwork for better tasting beer.

Which brings us full circle, since the development of agriculture (which led to the sedentary lifestyle, food surplus, and a leisure class with the time and resources to "do science") is believed (by some anthropologists) to have been primarily motivated by a desire to raise more grain for feeding to yeast in order to make beer (and, incidentally, bread).

Re:Which brings us full circle (2, Funny)

pete-classic (75983) | about 5 years ago | (#27680329)

I've long said that corn is the dominant life-form on the planet. But you've opened my eyes to the truth: it's been the yeast all along.

-Peter

Re:Which brings us full circle (1)

Sloppy (14984) | about 5 years ago | (#27680697)

To really be full circle, that explanation needs to somehow include networking technology and porn.

Re:True application of science (5, Funny)

Loadmaster (720754) | about 5 years ago | (#27680217)

Just like when all nuclear physics came to a head when Young Albert Einstein, then a lanky youth on the island of Tazmania, split the atom finally putting bubbles in beer. So much work for such a great deed.

What's the point of applied science? (4, Insightful)

mcrbids (148650) | about 5 years ago | (#27680237)

Applied Science AKA "Engineering" exists to make life better. Air conditioning, blogging, better tasting beer. If not to make life just that little bit better, than for what?

Sure, there are starving people in XYZ country, but they are starving precisely because they are NOT using engineering to make their lives better! Sure, you could donate the cost of that better-tasting beer and feed the starving kid for a few days... but then what?

Feel free to donate to 3rd world countries (I do) but when you do, don't just throw money/food at them, donate your money towards programs that will improve their infrastructure. Things like education. (I personally sponsor to help aschool for kids in rural Haiti)

And don't hesitate to enjoy that good-tasting franken-beer!

Backwards (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27680093)

Damn fool BU geeks.
You don't use genes to manipulate beer, you use beer to manipulate jeans.

Kids these days....

Re:Backwards (1)

avm (660) | about 5 years ago | (#27680643)

People using beer to manipulate jeans undoubtedly resulted in these students using genes to manipulate beer. Hopefully said students will use the manipulated beer to manipulate jeans themselves, and spawn a whole new generation to carry on the cycle.

Re:Backwards (1)

someSnarkyBastard (1521235) | about 5 years ago | (#27680815)

Yo, I heard you like to manipulate genes by manipulating jeans so i put some genes in your jeans so you can manipulate genes while you're manipulating jeans.

THANKS 'ZIBIT!!

Thanks, I'm here all week, try the veal!

Re:Backwards (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27683739)

That was one of the best posts I have ever read on /.

Could be great news for those of us who homebrew (4, Informative)

fragMasterFlash (989911) | about 5 years ago | (#27680253)

This would be a neat trick if it allowed brewing with yeasts that produced an English flavor profile yet had the high flocculation rates associated with American ale yeasts (Wyeast 1232 is the best compromise currently produced commercially, IMHO).

Re:Could be great news for those of us who homebre (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27681467)

Eh? What's that now???

English ale yeasts have high flocculation rates more or less across the board. They are known for a "cottage cheese" appearance.

Have you considered 1098, 1187, or 1335?

this is very exciting (2, Interesting)

Satanboy (253169) | about 5 years ago | (#27680257)

if they can adjust speed of fermentation and can actually change the flavor of beer, this could mean a whole new market of beer flavors we haven't had the change to try!

Imagine a skunky stout, or a crisp and light porter. . .

the changes could be immense!

(or maybe I'm just being silly)

Re:this is very exciting (1)

Joebert (946227) | about 5 years ago | (#27680423)

this could mean a whole new market of beer flavors we haven't had the change to try!

Well then we better get out there with extra large cups and start collecting change for our future!

Oh wait, that's right.

Re:this is very exciting (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27682031)

Extra large cups won't help. You've got some pretty tough competition in the form of this guy [theonion.com] .

Re:this is very exciting (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27681759)

A skunky stout? Leave a Guinness in the sun for a few hours. Isohumolone + light = 3-methylbut-2-ene-1-thiol. A "light porter" wouldn't be a porter according to standard style guidelines, it'd be more like a Pale Ale.

Re:this is very exciting (1)

The Finn (1547) | about 5 years ago | (#27681769)

you've obviously never used the whitbread (wyeast 1099) or Fuller's ESB (wyeast 1968) strains. both are incredibly flocculant.

Re:this is very exciting (2, Insightful)

DerekLyons (302214) | about 5 years ago | (#27682801)

You're being silly - the flavor profiles of stout and porter (and many other beers, particularly dark one, for that matter) are derived almost exclusively from the malts used. Yeast can't make porter crisp and light, and even if it could it would then be a pale ale rather than a porter.

Re:this is very exciting (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27683777)

Actually 80% of the flavor you get in your beer comes from the yeast, 10% comes from water chemistry and the last 10% comes from grain and hops.
Do not underestimate the yeast.

Flocculation != flavor (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27680281)

Didn't read the article.

I'm not sure how flocculation affects the flavor of the beer. Most of the flavor components in beer due to yeast are a result of the yeast digesting the sugars (and other various chemicals in the wort).

It's been well known for for quite some time that some strains of brewers yeast flocculate more than others (Thames valley I'm looking at you).

And besides...better beer? It's all in personal preference. Some people love crazy belgian beers (YAY) for their odd flavors (hint...it's the yeast). Some people prefer american style ales (lots of 'C' hops and NO yeast flavor).

I need a beer.

They could make a fortune... (4, Interesting)

Greg_D (138979) | about 5 years ago | (#27680337)

... selling this technology to the cigar or wine industries.

Because of terroir, different regions are going to have different climates and different soil content to produce different tasting or different quality products.

But imagine being able to grow a grape in Sonoma or some cigar tobacco in Honduras and have them taste just as if they had come from France or Cuba respectively by genetically engineering a strain. Sure, some would want and have the option to keep their wines and cigars just the way they currently are. But for those who desire a taste that is currently well outside of their price range or (in the case of Cuban cigars) illegal due to embargo, this would be a boon.

There is, for example, a stark difference between Cuban tobacco from before and after 1996. Why? They changed from using corojo tobacco to a corojo/cigarette tobacco hybrid that would withstand mold. The flavor and richness are not the same anymore. But perhaps with some genetic tweaking, they can create a strain which is resistant to the mold AND shares the same flavor characteristics as the old corojo leaf.

So even at the top of the ladder, there is room for improvement.

Also, I'd like to volunteer my services to test their beer.

Re:They could make a fortune... (1)

chooks (71012) | about 5 years ago | (#27682107)

Because of terroir, different regions are going to have different climates and different soil content to produce different tasting or different quality products.

Hmmm. But wouldn't that make them terroirists?

Thanks folks. I'm here every Wednesday. Try the veal

Re:They could make a fortune... (1)

MalleusEBHC (597600) | about 5 years ago | (#27682231)

But imagine being able to grow a grape in Sonoma or some cigar tobacco in Honduras and have them taste just as if they had come from France or Cuba respectively by genetically engineering a strain.

Why would you want to take excellent Californian wine and make it taste like French wine?

Re:They could make a fortune... (1)

Lissajous (989738) | about 5 years ago | (#27685201)

Mod points, mod points, my kingdom for some mod points!

The beauty of wine is that it's all different. Year, to year, country to country, region to region, vinyard to vinyard. Hell, even bottle to bottle.

There's all too little art in the world...can't you people leave the art of fermentation alone?

(Darn kids...get off my terroir)

How the liquor biz really works (5, Interesting)

Animats (122034) | about 5 years ago | (#27680661)

The hype: Skyy Vodka [skyy.com]

The reality: Skyy Vodka is a marketing company. Manufacturing is outsourced. They buy bulk ethanol from a MGP Ingredients [mgpingredients.com] (formerly Midwest Solvents Company) plant in Pekin, IL. MGP makes ethanol for beverage and industrial purposes. They used to sell ethanol for fuel, too, but that ended in February 2009 due to financial losses; their production costs were too high for fuel use.

The ethanol is pumped into tank cars and shipped by rail to Frank-Lin Distillers Products [frank-lin.com] in San Jose, CA., which has their own railroad sidings. Frank-Lin bottles, along with Skyy Vodka, most of the low-end booze on the West Coast. They make everything from brandy to whiskey, by mixing ethanol, water, and flavoring. They make over a thousand different "brands", although they only have about a hundred different recipes.

Frank-Lin is very automated. They have automated bottling lines that can change from one bottle and product to another without human intervention, and equally flexible packaging systems. So they can create the illusion of thousands of products, all coming from one plant.

It's all just flavored ethanol. Deal with it.

Re:How the liquor biz really works (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27680931)

I guess such a factory setup works for vodka and alcopops and such (and by the taste of it, budweiser) - indeed it is just flavored ethanol. But you can't make *good beer* like this.

Re:How the liquor biz really works (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | about 5 years ago | (#27680957)

It's all just flavored ethanol. Deal with it.

I choose to deal with it by drinking delicious Skyy vodka screwdrivers, using delicious MGP ethanol.

Anyway, it's somewhat inaccurate to say MGP manufactures the ethanol. The yeasts do most of the hard work I would assume.

Re:How the liquor biz really works (1)

filthpickle (1199927) | about 5 years ago | (#27681037)

It's all just flavored ethanol. Deal with it.

Not Bourbon. Mmmmmmmmmmm Bourbon. I miss you buddy.

Re:How the liquor biz really works (4, Insightful)

Zalbik (308903) | about 5 years ago | (#27681103)

And this has to do with beer production exactly how?

Sure the big beer producers do something very similar...fast fermenting yeast to produce ethanol, add flavor and coloring to make it taste like bubbly yellow piss.

However, there are many many microbreweries across the US and Canada that still brew beer basically the old fashioned way. It's just unfortunate that the typical North American still prefers the crap the big breweries produce.

Re:How the liquor biz really works (1)

pwizard2 (920421) | about 5 years ago | (#27681861)

It's just unfortunate that the typical North American still prefers the crap the big breweries produce.

It's not really about preference, it's just that most of them don't know any better. Their tastes never matured past their beer-swilling college days. I went through my macrobrew phase during my early college years, but by junior year I was drinking better stuff exclusively even though it cost more.

Re:How the liquor biz really works (1)

Bottlemaster (449635) | about 5 years ago | (#27682139)

It's not really about preference, it's just that most of them don't know any better.

I've never met anyone who prefers the taste of Bud/Miller/Coors; we all have a favorite "good" beer. Cheap domestics are all about practicality. They hit a price/taste sweet spot, so if you like the taste of beer, it "just works". It also come in cans, which makes it ever more convenient for outdoor activities.

Americans like beer, not just certain beers.

Re:How the liquor biz really works (1)

pwizard2 (920421) | about 5 years ago | (#27682389)

But there are good domestics that cost about the same as Miller/Bud/Coors but are much better. Ever try Yuengling? (that's one of my budget-price staple beers, < $6.50 for a 6-pack) No cans, though.

Re:How the liquor biz really works (1)

WilliamBaughman (1312511) | about 5 years ago | (#27682847)

So true. Yuengling is great, Black and Tan is my favorite of the beers they brew. My personal list of other good American beers with fairly good distribution throughout the states:

- Widmer (from Oregon)

- Ithaca Beer Company's Apricot Wheat (from New York)

- Dale's Pale Ale (from Colorado)

- Brooklyn Lager (also from New York)

- Anything from Ommegang Brewery (New York again)

Widmer is a fantastic summer beer, Brooklyn Lager goes really well with hamburgers, Ommegang makes Three Philosophers which is my favorite American beer (although it's expensive).

Here's looking forward to the end of classes, cheers!

Re:How the liquor biz really works (1)

pwizard2 (920421) | about 5 years ago | (#27683351)

I'll agree with you, Widmer is great for a domestic hefewiezen, most other domestic wheat beers are too lemony from my experience. The only thing better than Widmer in my opinion is a good German import like Paulaner or Franziskaner if you can get them. I'll have to try some of the other stuff on your list.

Ever had Czechvar?

Re:How the liquor biz really works (1)

filthpickle (1199927) | about 5 years ago | (#27682739)

I look forward to another ally in attempting to talk sense to beer geeks. I feel I should tell you now...I do not think we can win.

Re:How the liquor biz really works (1)

laddiebuck (868690) | about 5 years ago | (#27681721)

Sacrilege though it may sound, I don't give a toss if Teacher's or Glenlivet becomes some flavoured powder added to water and ethanol, as long as I can't taste the difference to what it used to be. Mind you, I think in the EU they have some strict laws against this, so you can't sell a Scotch unless it's actually been fermented in a barrel for 3 years or what have you. I've never looked at it, I just like the taste of (Scotch) whisky. Anyway, vodka is absolutely characterless, so I'm not surprised you can manufacture it by just adding some impurities to what is in theory just water and ethanol anyway. Vodka is for people who want to get drunk, whisky is for people who care about the taste. I look on it as a stimulant (not in the biological sense), and as such I prefer it to taste well.

Re:How the liquor biz really works (3, Funny)

cerberusss (660701) | about 5 years ago | (#27684163)

It's all just flavored ethanol. Deal with it.

Pop a bottle of real champagne and share it with the wife. This stuff isn't 'just flavored ethanol', I'm telling you, it's bottled love potion.

Re:How the liquor biz really works (1)

16Chapel (998683) | about 5 years ago | (#27684353)

Well, they know their market: their tedious Flash loading anim counts up from "0% loaded" to "100% loaded"...

haze and tannins (2, Interesting)

bcrowell (177657) | about 5 years ago | (#27680901)

For more information than you'll probably ever want about beer brewing, see How to Brew, by John Palmer (free online [howtobrew.com] , also available in print).

Although the Palmer book is for homebrewers, apparently getting rid of haze is something that commercial breweries are extremely interested in, and they spend millions of dollars on research. As far as I can tell, it would mainly be an issue for American-style lagers (e.g., Budweiser), which are transparent enough that the haze would be noticeable. However, tannins and haze can also correlate with taste and shelf life (oxidation). As a homebrewer, I've never really worried about it much.

I'm not clear on why they want to use genetic modification to control when flocculation happens. There are tons of varieties of yeast that you can buy, and one of the criteria you apply when you're selecting a strain of yeast is how alcohol-tolerant it is. A less alcohol-tolerant strain will respond earlier to the stress of the alcohol by flocculating out. Since there are already so many different strains with different flocculation properties, I don't really see what the genetic modification gains you.

Re:haze and tannins (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | about 5 years ago | (#27681197)

Since there are already so many different strains with different flocculation properties, I don't really see what the genetic modification gains you.

Perhaps you have a strain with the desired flavor profile, but it is a poor flocculator. It may be much cheaper to engineer that strain to flocculate well than to try to develop a strain with the same flavor profile but high flocculation.

Flavor profile + attenuation + flocculation... it may be very hard to get all three the way you want them without engineering one or more characteristic.

Suspicious! (1)

Jonas Buyl (1425319) | about 5 years ago | (#27681231)

developed a way to predict the behavior or different DNA segments

The typo's suggest the poster already tasted some of that beer :>

Re:Suspicious! (1)

c6gunner (950153) | about 5 years ago | (#27683965)

Yes. I also liked this phrase:

Like any self-respected bunch of grad students

Apparently it's impossible to write about alcohol research without first sampling some of the experimental results.

This is silly.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27681607)

...there's no such thing as tastier beer. It's all tasty, and it is all perfectly tasty, just in different ways.

Welcome (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27683381)

I, for one, welcome our new robotic, beer-producing overlords.

Seriously!

Yeast produced phenols/taste vary with conditions (1)

yelsirgany (211145) | about 5 years ago | (#27686381)

Advanced brewers are very keen to how yeast behave at varying conditions such as temperature ( most specially ), pressure and rate of yeast in brewing substance ( pitching rate ). You can with the same yeast produce varying amounts of "smells" and tastes by varying the above conditions.

To get very clean tasting beers you really want to pick the appropriate yeast and ferment it at the temperature that is optimal for it. So the concept of a yeast that can be designed to produce a certain characteristic smell/taste already exists. There are dozes and dozens of available yeast types by the big yeast manufactures already and they all behave differently if you "stress them", under pitch them to the brewing liquid, ferment under pressure, etc. Producing different results each time.

The secret to being a good brewer is knowing what each of these variables to do get the specific floculation, attenuation, taste and phenols that you are looking for.

For anyone interestest I hightly recommend The Complete Joy of Homebrewing and Brewing Classic Styles: 80 Winning Recipes Anyone Can Brew for you to get started on brewing great beers.

Don't forget also to "Relax and have a homebrew!".
 

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