Improving Craft Brewing through Optimization of Yeast Function

Beer has been brewed since the dawn of civilization and is composed of only 4 simple ingredients: hops, water, toasted barley (called malt) and yeast. Yeast are the factories that convert chemicals in the starting materials to ethanol and flavors. Not all yeast are the same; over the millennia selection of specific yeast strains for specific brewing purposes has force the yeast to ‘evolve’ changing their genetic composition. For example, yeast used to make ales have a different genetic composition to those used to make lagers. But how does this change in genetic composition lead to such vastly different beers? The aim of this project is to use new technologies in both genetic analyses and chemical classification to identify how the genes in specific yeast strains are able to generate different beers. Our aim is to further ‘train’ yeast to better use their genetic material and make them more efficient at producing specific chemicals/flavors. Brewers make the selection of the appropriate malt and yeast based on previous experience; however, this can lead to problems when trying new brews, using new materials, or troubleshooting.

Joshua Allan Douglas Pickering
Faculty Supervisor: 
Christopher Eskiw
Partner University: