Recently discovered living inside the belly of a species of Lebanese weevil covered in the resins of ancient Burmese amber trees, is a tiny colony of bacteria and yeast that has lain dormant for as many as 45 million years. According to Eric Bland of Discovery News. About ten years ago Raul Cano, now a scientist at the California Polytechnic State University, drilled a tiny hole into the amber and extracted more than 2,000 different kinds of microscopic creatures.
Upon activating the ancient yeast, Cano now has brewed barrels beer including pale ale and German weizenbier under the name Fossil Fuels Brewing Company. Gimmicky? Perhaps. Innovative and interesting? Definitely. That is supposing, also, that you don’t mind ingesting beer brewed from yeast within the belly of a weevil-a beetle from the Curculionoidea superfamily. Usually less than 0.25 inches in length, these small critters are herbavorous with peculiarly shaped head giving them the name “snout beetles.” Many are considered pest due to their love for chowing at crops, laying eggs there and the young munching their way out. Many have a taste for wheat, which makes their guts a sort of beer yeast breeding factory.
“You can always buy brewing yeast, and your product will be based on the brewmaster’s recipes,” said Cano. “Our yeast has a double angle: We have yeast no one else has and our own beer recipes.”
According to Bland, the beer has received good reviews at the Russian River Beer Festival and from other reviewers. The California Costa Times beer critic, William Brand, says the beer has “a weird spiciness at the finish,” and The Washington Post said the beer was “smooth and spicy.”
The distinct flavor attributed to the yeast taste comes from the yeast’s unique metabolism. “The ancient yeast is restricted to a narrow band of carbohydrates, unlike more modern yeasts, which can consume just about any kind of sugar,” said Cano.
If you think the extraction and cultivation of yeast from an ancient weevil is utterly odd or even insanely grotesque, take a look at Toi Sennhauser‘s Original Pussy Beer. This beer was made (along with yogurts and baked bread) with a sample of yeast from the brewer’s vagina. Giving it the tagline “The Mother of All Beers.” Think we’ll work on our beetle brew for now.
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This post was written by Angelo on September 25, 2008