Space is viewed as the final frontier, but for Eugene, Oregon’s Ninkasi Brewing, it was merely the next step in the beer-making process. That’s why the company founded the Ninkasi Space Program (NSP) in 2014 with one sole purpose: to launch brewers yeast into space, recover it, and successfully brew beer with it.

Thanks to their brave efforts, soon craft beer fans will finally get a ‘taste of space.’ On April 13th, Ninkasi will release Ground Control, a 10% ABV Imperial Stout sold in 22 oz. limited edition bottles for just under $20.

ninkasi grond control header

This 55 barrel batch will be available in the following places:

  • Alaska
  • Alberta
  • Arizona
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Idaho
  • Nevada
  • Oregon
  • Washington
  • Vancouver, B.C.
  • New York (limited availability)
  • Washington, D.C. (limited availability)
  • select Ninkasi special events

Wired reports that NSP actually sent two missions into space. Mission One launched from Black Rock Desert in Nevada in July 2014, but landed a full nine miles away from its intended landing site. Because it took 27 days for Mission One’s payload to be located, most of the yeast inside had already spoiled.

Thankfully, the second flight in October 2014 achieved far better results. The rocket SpaceLoft-9 was launched with the help of UP Aerospace, and managed a height of 408,035 feet (77.3 miles) above Earth before coming back down. The yeast spent a total of about four minutes in space. The properties of the yeast weren’t changed in any way, but it’s a story that can’t be told about any other Imperial Stout on the market.

Sadly, NSP may not be an ongoing program, but the company’s dedication to its theme is evident in its choices of hops used for Ground Control: Apollo, Bravo, and Comet. Other elements include Oregon hazelnuts, star anise, and cocoa nibs. It’s one small step for Ninkasi, but one giant leap for beer-kind.


[via Wired, Ninkasi Brewing]