Researchers from the Faculty of Science at Memorial University are diving into a novel project, quite literally. They're exploring the coastal waters of Newfoundland and Labrador to discover unique marine yeasts with the potential to revolutionize beer-making.
The idea brewed between Dr. Duncan McIlroy, an Earth Sciences professor, and Jim MacDonald, owner of the Western Newfoundland Brewing Company. Inspired by a Croatian graduate student who made beer from a new marine yeast, the duo wondered if Newfoundland's oceans might offer similar brewing potential.
Partnering with Dr. Suzanne Dufour and Dr. Dawn Bignell, specialists in biology and food microbiology, the team aims to find yeasts that can produce unique and complex flavors in beer. Given the limited types of yeasts commonly used in commercial brewing, finding new strains could introduce a world of taste possibilities.
To bring this to fruition, a graduate student will be sent to Bonne Bay to collect water, seaweed, and sediment samples this fall. These will be cultivated and tested in the lab for their brewing potential. The researchers are particularly interested in yeasts that can efficiently convert wort's sugars into ethanol and display good flocculation, or the ability to easily separate from the liquid after fermentation.
Funded by a seed grant from Memorial University and supported by in-kind resources from Grenfell Campus, this two-year project promises not only a possible gustatory delight but also a potential boost for Newfoundland and Labrador's economy. By turning local marine resources into innovative food production methods, the province could diversify its local economies, especially considering the large role distilled spirits already play in exports.
As Jim MacDonald puts it, "creating a beer from a yeast captured in the wild is enormously satisfying." Through this unique collaboration, the team hopes to take advantage of Newfoundland and Labrador's marine biodiversity to craft beers with flavors as untamed as the sea.