Weird beer

Ferment probes the darkest crevices of the beer world for treasures and horrors. This issue, a beer that makes no bones about its origins
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Should brewers play god? On the basis of have met quite a few of them, my answer would have to be an unequivocal “please, no”. Imagine my horror then, when I discovered not one but two breweries footling around inside fossils in search of tasty prehistoric genes.

Virginia’s Lost Rhino brewery teamed up with palaeontology non-profit company Paleo Quest, to produce a beer which would get people talking about science (or something – do we really need to justify making dinosaur beer?). Anyway, together they dusted some protocetid whale fossils found in Virginia near the Dismal Swamp and, lo-and-behold, a wild yeast was discovered. The brewery says it has ‘unique and fruity characteristics’, and used it to brew Bone Duster a 5.5% amber ale.

Meanwhile, Fossil Fuels Brewing Co in California has gone ‘full-Attenborough’ in search of its yeast, delving in the gut of a 45 million year-old bee that was encased in Amber. Microbiologist Prof Raul Cano isolated the yeast – snappily titled AY108 – and decided the most appropriate use for it would be to make a beer. So far, he’s brewed two: a basic golden ale designed to showcase the yeast’s character, and later a saison.

Both beers have been confined to an island somewhere in the Pacific, where Chris Pratt is gradually winning their trust and trying to prevent them from being weaponised by shadowy corporate interests. Life will find a way.

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