Our Technology

Edible plants

The compounds that give beer its hoppy flavor are found in a variety of plants. Terpenes, a family of compounds that give Cascade hops its distinct aroma (think Sierra Nevada Pale Ale) are also found in mint, basil, tomato, and strawberry. Other types of compounds give tropical IPAs their fruity aroma and are found in guava, pineapple, and grapes. Using the magic of science, we find the genes responsible for making these flavors in plants or other edible sources and add them to brewer’s yeast.

Brewer's yeast

You can think of yeast as a very small biochemical factory: sugar goes in and yeast transforms it into alcohol and a variety of flavors. By engineering the products of fermentation, BBS yeast can make unique flavors - floral, citrus, fruity, tropical, and herbal - without the help of traditionally-required hops or fruit. 

Delicious beer, sustainably produced

Beer made with BBS strains can be produced with less water, less energy, and fewer greenhouse gas emissions, without compromising on flavor. Our technology will safeguard the future of the brewing industry by creating a more sustainable product. Hops is a resource-heavy crop - growing enough for a pint of beer (without BBS yeast) requires up to 23 pints of water, and that doesn’t account for the carbon emissions and energy expended on farming, transportation, and processing. While drought-resistant hop cultivars exist, they are limited by an inability to produce the citrus and tropical flavor profiles popular in today’s beers. But combined with BBS yeast, these more robust hops could be used to make beers that don’t compromise on flavor, taking another step towards sustainable brewing. 

Is BBS yeast safe?

Absolutely, and here’s why: A gene is a DNA sequence that encodes an enzyme with a specific function. In this case, the yeast is using edible plant genes to make enzymes that produce flavor molecules. These flavor molecules are identical to the ones normally found in hops and other plants. Other than gaining the ability to produce hop flavors, the yeast is identical to standard American Ale yeast. The FDA agrees with us, too (see our GRAS notice).

Want to get deeper into the science?

Read our peer-reviewed publication in Nature Communications.

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Berkeley Brewing Science