The New Frontier: Yeast From Outer Space Used In Craft Beer

One company has taken craft beer to new heights, into space to be exact.

The beer is called Ground Control, brewed by the Ninkasi Brewing Company of Eugene, Oregon, with ingredients enriched by the Ninkasi Space Program.

The goal of Ground Control was simple, according to Wired. Send yeast into outer space, retrieve the yeast (still alive) and use it to brew a new delicious kind of craft beer.

The mission got off to a rocky start.

According to io9, the first attempt was launched in July, 2014, with Civilian Space eXploration Team and Team Hybriddyne. The rocket carried 16 vials of the brewer’s yeast into space and returned to Earth. Unfortunately for the company, the rocket remained lost in the hot Nevada desert for 27 days, killing all the space yeast inside.

In October, 2014, the company sent a second, less ambitious rocket mission into space with the help of private space corporation UP Aerospace Inc. It carried six vials of yeast, and reached an altitude of 77.3 miles (the Kármán line at an altitude of 62 miles high is generally used as the starting point for outer space, so yes, they did make it.) The yeast enjoyed a zero-gravity environment for four minutes during the journey.

This time the space yeast was recovered, brought back to Oregon, bred and brewed into the Ground Control beer.

So what incredible changes happen to yeast when sent into the outer space?

Does the weightless environment of space take hold in the microscopic yeast, giving the beer a lighter feel?

Does the solar radiation create super yeast, capable of giving bizarre powers to beer drinkers, or give the beer a peachy flavor?

According to Wired, the answer is none of the above. It’s just kind of cool to know you’re drinking something that was in space for a while.

Still, yeast dies fairly easily, and sending them to space and brewing beer with them back home is no easy accomplishment. Unfortunately, Japanese brewer Sapporo kind of beat Ninkasi to the punch.

According to Popular Science, Sapporo brewed a small amount of beer from barley that spent time on the International Space Station (ISS) in 2008. Likewise, scotch connoisseurs aged some scotch for two years on the ISS (luckily no one experimented with space intoxication.)

Ground Control beer is different though; it’s an every man’s beverage. Customers will be able to buy 22 ounce bottles for $20 each in Alaska, Alberta, Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, and Vancouver for a limited time.

[Image Credit: Getty Images]

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