California Polytechnic State University scientist Raul Cano drilled into a 45-million-year-old weevil trapped in ancient amber and extracted more than 2,000 different kinds of microscopic organisms.
One of the things he dug out was ancient yeast, which he managed to reactivate. And now he uses it to brew beer.
The beer has received good reviews at the Russian River Beer Festival and from other reviewers. The Oakland Tribune beer critic, William Brand, says the beer has “a weird spiciness at the finish,” and The Washington Post said the beer was “smooth and spicy.”
Part of that taste comes from the yeast’s unique metabolism. “The ancient yeast is restricted to a narrow band of carbohydrates, unlike more modern yeasts, which can consume just about any kind of sugar,” said Cano.
The beer is currently available only at a couple of breweries in Northern California, although they’re working on nationwide distribution. Next time any of my Californian relatives head up north, I know what souvenir I want them to get me.