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

    by mcgrew (701) <> 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.

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  • (Score: 2) by FatPhil on Sunday August 07, @09:41AM (1 child)

    by FatPhil (863) <> 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.
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    • (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).