As microbrewers continue their quest to brew beer with ever stranger ingredients , here is one possible winner: Yeast living on the 35 million year-old fossil of an extinct whale. Bone Dusters Paleo Brew is the alcoholic brainchild of a paleontology lover and a brew brewer, and it may soon be coming to a tap near you.
Jason Osborne, who heads up the nonprofit Paleo Quest, first dreamed up the idea to interest people in paleontology with beer because, well, beer! He got Jasper Akerboom of Lost Rhino Brewing Company on board to brainstorm possibilities for the paleo beer. Akerboom initially suggested a Jurassic Park-style beer made from yeast preserved in amber, but that proved, hmm, a bit ambitious.
Instead, they headed down in to the fossil archives of the Calvert Marine Museum in Maryland to swab old bones (top photo). They eventually found one yeast that could ferment beer. This yeast turned out to be a variant of Saccharomyces cerevisiae, the workhorse yeast of breweries everywhere. In honour of the protocetid whale fossil that it lived on, they plan to name the variant Saccharomyces cerevisiae var protocetus.
But, most importantly, what does the Paleo Brew taste like? "The beer, its style undetermined, tasted fairly sweet, and hovered around 4-to-5-per cent alcohol by volume," according to Northern Virginia Magazine.
If you want to imbibe for yourself, Scientific American's Symbiartic blog reports Lost Rhino will soon be serving Bone Dusters Paleo Brew at its Virginia taproom. They may also offer it to their distributors soon, and may even supply it to "relevant professional meetings," which sounds like yet another good reason to sneak into your local paleontology conference. [Scientific American Symbiartic blog]
Pictures: John Nance, Jason Osborne