In the quest to push the boundaries of creativity, craft brewers have made beers at the bottom of the ocean, harvested yeast from human beards, and packed ales full of unexpected ingredients like Mangalitsa pig heads and bull testicles. But just as space was once the final frontier for man, it now seems to have become a source of fascination for beer makers.
Wired has a fascinating breakdown of the various efforts to experiment with beer and the cosmos, including Dogfish Head’s brewpub-only Celest-jewel-ale, made with ground-up lunar meteorites, and Sapporo’s 2006 project in which the Japanese brewery created a beer with barley that had lived on the International Space Station for five months. Coors has gotten into the mix as well, testing the effects of gravity on fermentation.
But the most epic effort to push beer past earth’s atmosphere is Ninkasi Brewing’s space rocket, which recently blasted into the heavens carrying 16 different strains of yeast. The idea was to see how yeast is affected by the cold temperatures and weightlessness of space, and then to brew beer with it back on earth. (Fun fact: Portland beer legend Don Younger’s ashes were also on board.)
Here’s some awesome footage of lift-off, which took place in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert on July 14:
Unfortunately, this rocket was never found, and the search was called off once the time window of the yeast surviving had passed. But Ninkasi and and their partners in the mission, Civilian Space eXploration Team and Team Hybriddyne, may improve the capsule and try again.
“For me this is a process of being on that frontier of trying something new for beer with relation to yeast and its viability in space,” Ninkasi co-founder Jamie Floyd told Wired.
The sheer curiosity to taste a beer with the terroir of space is clearly a big motivating factor in the mission. But Ninkasi’s Niko Ridge also has grander ideas worthy of a sci-fi novel:
You can learn more about the experiment and the science of yeast at nsp.ninkasibrewing.com.
[via Beer Street Journal/Wired]