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posted by janrinok on Friday August 05, @08:13PM   Printer-friendly
from the one-that-is-missing-from-FatPhil's-collection dept.

400-year-old Ecuadoran beer resurrected from yeast:

Inside an old oak barrel, Ecuadoran bioengineer Javier Carvajal found the fungus of fortune: a 400-year-old yeast specimen that he has since managed to resurrect and use to reproduce what is believed to be Latin America's oldest beer.

That single-cell microorganism, taken from just a splinter of wood, was the key to recovering the formula for an elixir first brewed in Quito in 1566 by friar Jodoco Ricke, a Franciscan of Flemish origin who historians believe introduced wheat and barley to what is now the Ecuadoran capital.

"Not only have we recovered a biological treasure but also the 400-year-old work of silent domestication of a yeast that probably came from a chicha and that had been collected from the local environment," Carvajal told AFP.

Chicha is a fermented corn drink brewed by the Indigenous people of the Americas before Spanish colonization.

Carvajal, who already had experience recovering other yeasts, found out about the ancient Franciscan brewery in Quito while reading specialist beer magazines.

It took him a year to do so, but he finally managed to find a barrel from the old brewery in 2008.

It was stored in Quito's San Francisco Convent, an imposing three-hectare complex built between 1537 and 1680, which is now a museum.

After extracting a splinter, Carvajal used a microscope to find a tiny yeast specimen, which after a long period of cultivation he was able to resurrect.

[...] For Carvajal, resurrecting the yeast and the age-old methods used to make the ancient recipe was simply a labor of love for "the value of the intangible."


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  • (Score: 2) by looorg on Friday August 05, @09:42PM (12 children)

    by looorg (578) on Friday August 05, @09:42PM (#1265179)

    So it's a corn beer flavored with cinnamon, fig, clove and sugarcane. Not sure if that will be a big hit with beer drinkers today.

    • (Score: 1) by zatoichi on Friday August 05, @10:21PM (6 children)

      The yeast probably came from chicha, but since the Friar was Belgian, and introduced barley and wheat, the beer was probably a normal Belgian Ale. Belgians are known to use wild yeast, as well.

      • (Score: 2) by hendrikboom on Friday August 05, @11:41PM (2 children)

        by hendrikboom (1125) Subscriber Badge on Friday August 05, @11:41PM (#1265193) Homepage Journal

        Yes. They have fermentation rooms with louvered ceiings that can be opened to expose the fermentation to whatever yeasts blow in. Some entire areas are homes of particular yeasts. So far the scientists analyzing this have found many, many different species of yeasts, and they're not done yet.

        • (Score: 3, Insightful) by FatPhil on Sunday August 07, @09:27AM

          by FatPhil (863) <pc-soylentNO@SPAMasdf.fi> on Sunday August 07, @09:27AM (#1265409) Homepage
          That's the image they'd like you to believe. However, in order to keep a house taste, they keep their own culture, and innoculate with that. They aren't lying when they say "it lives in the wooden beams, and it falls down naturally onto the koelschip", but that's because they innoculate the beams with their house culture. Nothing wrong with that - having a more reliable reproduceable quality is a good thing. If half of my Cantillons tasted like Hanssens, I'd drink a hell of a lot less Cantillon.
          --
          Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people; the smallest discuss themselves
        • (Score: 2) by kazzie on Sunday August 07, @07:09PM

          by kazzie (5309) Subscriber Badge on Sunday August 07, @07:09PM (#1265455)

          Cider production (at least the homebrew variety) works on this principle: it uses the yeasts in the skin of the unwashed apples, and the sugars from the juice. No need to do anything else to it: just bottle it up with an airlock and leave for a few months. My local variety of yeast seems to do an okay job.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 06, @01:21AM (1 child)

        by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 06, @01:21AM (#1265205)

        We were on safari in Sudan, hunting wild yeasts. Our guide warned us that we would have to be fast: when the wild yeast attacks, it goes straight for your face!

        • (Score: 1, Touché) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 06, @03:20AM

          by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 06, @03:20AM (#1265210)

          When the wild yeast attacks
          it goes straight for your crotch

      • (Score: -1, Flamebait) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 07, @05:19PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 07, @05:19PM (#1265443)

        {janrinok+zatoichi1}+{at}+{protonmail.com}

        Well, hai there ari! Subtlety was never your strong suit, any more that math is your strong suit. Do you even have a strong suit?

    • (Score: 2) by mcgrew on Saturday August 06, @03:34PM (2 children)

      by mcgrew (701) <publish@mcgrewbooks.com> on Saturday August 06, @03:34PM (#1265269) Homepage Journal

      Depends on the country. Guinness is fairly sweet, especially compared to "American" beer (foreigners bought all of the big American beer companies, so Busch is no longer really an American beer). Most American beers were from German recipes. When I worked at Disney World I loved going around Epcot and trying different beers from around the world.

      --
      Free Martian whores! [mcgrewbooks.com]
      • (Score: 2) by FatPhil on Sunday August 07, @09:41AM (1 child)

        by FatPhil (863) <pc-soylentNO@SPAMasdf.fi> on Sunday August 07, @09:41AM (#1265411) Homepage
        One of my most common complaints about American beers is that they're too damn sweet. They underattenuate, they add lactose (which doesn't ferment), and they add sweet adjuncts which are more appropriate in cakes or desserts. The mass market may have been pushed towards lower-carb "Lite" beers, but the majority of beers by count are not the majority of beers by volume.
        --
        Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people; the smallest discuss themselves
        • (Score: 2) by kazzie on Sunday August 07, @06:55PM

          by kazzie (5309) Subscriber Badge on Sunday August 07, @06:55PM (#1265452)

          I'm not a beer drinker (hard cider is my preference), but I'm surprised to hear that lactose is added to beers in North America, given that it has intolerance issues. None of the ciders, beers and ales I have in (for guests) mention lactose on their labels, whereas they do note other allergens, such as barley and sulphites. I know tastes differ, but it seems that manufacturing processes differ wildly too.

          I write this having been pressing apples from my garden and pouring the juice into airlocked containers to make this year's cider. It'll sit there until the yeast runs out of sugar, then I'll get around to bottling it. That's my taste in alcohol (and complication too).

    • (Score: 2) by FatPhil on Sunday August 07, @09:16AM (1 child)

      by FatPhil (863) <pc-soylentNO@SPAMasdf.fi> on Sunday August 07, @09:16AM (#1265406) Homepage
      In that case, you know very little about the beer drinkers today. The less it sounds, looks, and tastes like beer, the more popular it is nowadays.

      Last night, I had one which was flavoured with banana and chocolate, for example, and another that tasted of pissy nutsacks. But the latter was because they had a brett infection, not by design.
      --
      Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people; the smallest discuss themselves
      • (Score: 3, Interesting) by kazzie on Sunday August 07, @07:06PM

        by kazzie (5309) Subscriber Badge on Sunday August 07, @07:06PM (#1265454)

        The same thing is common in UK (hard) ciders too. There seems to be three main classes of cider here:

        1. The well-known, mass-produced ciders with lots of sugar and bubbles, but no taste* (Strongbow, Magners, etc)

        2. Ciders made with other sundry fruits or other ingredients, so it tastes of something else instead (Rekordelig, Old Mout)

        3. The smaller cider makers that know what they're doing, and make some proper stuff (Weston's, Thatchers, Rosie's)

        I stick exclusively to the third category.

        *There used to be a subset of this, which was cider fermented cheaply to higher strengths (White Lightning) but that's largely gone the way of the dodo., because cider was taxed less than beer

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 06, @05:11AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 06, @05:11AM (#1265221)

    I bet it's flat.

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