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Sunday 5 July 2015

Whale fossil used to brew beer

17th July, 2014 by Neal Baker

This craft beer takes the idea of ‘natural ingredients’ to a whole new level, as a fossil enthusiast and microbiologist have teamed up to produce a brew made with yeast scraped from a 35 million-year-old whale bone.

Fossil-beer

Fossil-hunter Jason Osborne, left, and right, microbiologist Jasper Akerboom

The beer, named Bone Dusters Paleo Ale, is a Belgian-style citrusy pour that is the result of combined passions between two friends; one an amateur palaeontologist and the other a microbiologist.

It is reported on NPR.com that fossil-hunter Jason Osborne of Paleo Quest – a non-profit palaeontology group – got the idea of using ancient sources for yeast-gathering while he was nursing a pint and inspecting his latest discoveries.

“I thought, even though this is dead, there’s got to be things living on it,” he told NPR.

What he discovered was that a wild yeast subspecies, which the pair named Saccharomyces cerevisiae var protectus, was indeed living on his fossil, and that it could be used to ferment the ingredients required to create a pre-historic pint.

Microbiologist Jason Akerboom says that the yeast is probably not nearly as old as the fossil it was scraped from, but he believes that it came from the swamp that the bones were found in.

Beer-GlassIt is reported that Osborne and Akerboom are not the first to craft a prehistoric brew. In a feat that resembles the blockbuster movie Jurassic Park, Raul Cano extracted yeast from the stomach of a 45-million-year-old fly entrapped in fossilised amber to create his own beer.

Cano, a microbiologist who now operates Fossil Fuels Brewing Co. (which employs Ackerboom), raises some skepticism over the origins of the yeast.

He thinks that the yeast is most likely the product of outside contamination.

But he praises the team’s accomplishment. “Regardless of whether it came from a whale bone, or someone’s fingernail, I think it’s amazing.”

On the topic of strange beer creations, we recently reported on an Icelandic beer smoked with sheep dung making its way to the US.

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