Un-beer-lievable! Scientists develop a way to extract ‘hoppy’ molecules from baker’s yeast – and say they can be added to non-alcoholic beers to make them taste more like the real deal
Whether it’s their watery mouthfeel or the drab flavour, non-alcoholic beers are typically less satisfying than their boozy counterparts.
Now, scientists in Denmark claim they’ve made non-alcoholic beer that has all the complex flavour profiles of regular beer.
Low alcohol and non-alcoholic beverages are growing more and more popular, because they lack the harmful effects of alcohol, such as liver damage.
But they tend to pack less of a flavour punch due to the burning off of alcohol towards the end of production, which takes away hop flavour and aroma.
So, the researchers engineered a species of yeast widely used by brewers, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, to produce a group of molecules called monoterpenoids.
Monoterpenoids, which are found in hops, are then added to non-alcoholic beer at the end of the brewing process to give it back its lost flavour.
The method is already being tested in breweries in Denmark and the plan is to have the technique ready for the entire brewing industry in October 2022.
Some people find the taste of non-alcoholic beer to be flat and watery, and this has a scientific explanation, according to Sotirios Kampranis, a professor at the University of Copenhagen and member of the research team.
Kampranis and his colleague Simon Dusséaux are both founders of the biotech company EvodiaBio, a firm producing sustainable, natural aromas for the food and beverage industry.
‘What non-alcoholic beer lacks is the aroma from hops,’ said Professor Kampranis. ‘When you remove the alcohol from the beer, for example by heating it up, you also kill the aroma that comes from hops.
‘Other methods for making alcohol-free beer by minimising fermentation also lead to poor aroma because alcohol is needed for hops to pass their unique flavour to the beer.’
Currently, the use of hops in the production of regular beer is also very wasteful, according to the team.
‘Hops is a very intensive plant to grow and only a very small fraction of it is actually used to give the aroma and the rest goes to waste,’ Dusséaux said.
‘That’s why in EvodiaBio we discovered how to efficiently produce those molecules using microorganisms.’