Bioengineered Yeast

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by pweis909, Sep 13, 2019.

  1. pweis909

    pweis909 Poo-Bah (1,841) Aug 13, 2005 Wisconsin

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  2. RaulMondesi

    RaulMondesi Poo-Bah (2,087) Dec 11, 2006 California

    Bioengineered as in GMO? Don’t fuck with Mother Nature. If that is what this is, these scumbags can go to hell.
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  3. pweis909

    pweis909 Poo-Bah (1,841) Aug 13, 2005 Wisconsin

    Yes, bioengineering is a term for gmo, in my estimation, but I have no knowledge of what they did here, molecularly.

    I thought it was interesting that they were going there, especially with this lactic souring effect, given that there was a story not too long ago about a wild yeast discovery that produces a similar effect:

    When I first saw the Lallemand press release, I thought it was about a commercial production of this wild strain. But that doesn't appear to be the case; the Lallemand yeast is described as Saccharomyces cerevisiae, not a new species of yeast.
    #3 pweis909, Sep 13, 2019
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2019
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  4. hopfenunmaltz

    hopfenunmaltz Meyvn (1,466) Jun 8, 2005 Michigan

    I had a beer at HomebrewCon Pro-Brewers night that was made with that yeast. They had worked with Lallamand. We were warned that it was super sour, but I thought it was not as sour as I was warned. That's what I remember about it.
  5. PapaGoose03

    PapaGoose03 Poo-Bah (2,491) May 30, 2005 Michigan

    It sounds like the big benefit is faster fermentation/souring by skipping the souring step, but it also sounds like the sour taste MAY be so intense that blending with another yeast or blending with a non-sour batch of beer is recommended. That sounds like some unpredictability in the end result of the beer depending on the blending skill of the brewer. That could be tricky until the skill is achieved.

    But the non-bacterial definition of this yeast sure eliminates the contamination exposure of the brewing equipment, and that's a big plus.
  6. LeRose

    LeRose Meyvn (1,402) Nov 24, 2011 Massachusetts

    Here's what did here following the link to the product page at the end of the article.

    "Sourvisiae® contains a single genetic modification, a lactate dehydrogenase gene from a food microorganism, which enables the yeast to produce high levels of lactic acid, the main compound that gives sour beers their flavor." - Sourvisiae product page, Lallemand

    So a snip from one organism inserted into the S. cerevisae and eventually raptors take over the planet... Sarcasm aside, this is pretty cool from the technical perspective, in my opinion. Is it a way to cheat when making sour beers - possibly, but if you can use a simple yeast and keep your facility otherwise clean and free from risk (ie, the organism is controlled and controllable similar to conventional yeast) assuming you also make things non-sour? I'd do it in a heartbeat.

    The wild yeast - interesting read. It would not necessarily be designated as a new species - more than likely a sub-species or a strain of the organism. That seems to be what the folks who discovered have decided for now, anyway, according to the article.
  7. MNAle

    MNAle Poo-Bah (1,565) Sep 6, 2011 Minnesota

    If this yeast strain provides economic benefit to brewers, good.

    The anti GMO in food movement has the same scientific credibility as the anti vaccine movement.
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  8. pweis909

    pweis909 Poo-Bah (1,841) Aug 13, 2005 Wisconsin

    I’m not anti gmo. Like any technology, there are risks until you understand it, and there are ways to use it responsibly or irresponsibly. I knew gmo would push some buttons but I really was hoping for beer-focused and industry-focused discussion, and specifics on the particular biology if anyone was in the know (I would think the easiest way to do this is with some lactic acid bacteria genes).

    I was listening to a podcast today about hops and it touched on GMOs and hops. Sounds like that sector does not feel the beer consumers are ready to go there.

    I was also thinking about sour beer brewers and the difficulty people experience making sours with wild yeast or even commercial strains of Brett, lacto, pedio, etc. Those brewers can throw away a lot of beer, making it economically challenging. They have set price points accordingly. There already are more easily made kettle sours that can be made more cheaply and might cut into the market if the traditional sour makers. Add to that gmo yeasts that might take out some of the guesswork and variability. It makes me wonder if the traditional approach can survive.
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  9. nc41

    nc41 Poo-Bah (1,943) Sep 25, 2008 North Carolina

    What’s wrong with natural yeast?
  10. woodchipper

    woodchipper Meyvn (1,105) Oct 25, 2005 Connecticut

    So why is a random natural mutation by a cosmic ray or a disease or whatever better than an intended surgical mutation with a specific goal?
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  11. rgordon

    rgordon Savant (975) Apr 26, 2012 North Carolina

    I agree. It sure seems to me that plants and beings morph and hybridize on their own. My compost bin has birthed some great volunteer tomato plants all across my property. I pick up to 50 mostly cherry tomatoes twice a day and some plants produce more than one type of tomato. I always use the compost for planting. I sure as hell didn't do this on purpose. The Leyland Cypress was developed at N.C. State and any semblance of ice breaks them apart. But they do grow fast!
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  12. pweis909

    pweis909 Poo-Bah (1,841) Aug 13, 2005 Wisconsin

    I’m sure you and I could find a lot of common ground over a few beers. Until then, I’ll just say that I’ve never had a beer made with gmo yeast, so I don’t know if it is any better or worse than what I have had, and will reserve judgment until I learn more
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  13. Zorro

    Zorro Poo-Bah (4,453) Dec 25, 2003 California

    So what?

    There are lots of Genetically engineered bacteria, chances you have taken a drug made by one.

    So what if they engineer a yeast to produce hop acids to make a faster lager or something?
  14. stevepat

    stevepat Crusader (783) Mar 12, 2013 California

    your volunteer tomato seeds out of compost are pretty much the opposite of genetically modified organisms. that is traditional seed propagation in the extreme.
  15. rgordon

    rgordon Savant (975) Apr 26, 2012 North Carolina

    Whatever it is a new type(s) of tomato seems to emerge every year. And they are healthy and largely disease resistant. Just before our first frost last Fall, I harvested 128 cherry tomatoes from one plant. I love it.
  16. jesskidden

    jesskidden Poo-Bah (1,853) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
    Society Trader

    Well, if used by a "craft" brewer, it would be hailed as "INNOVATIVE".

    If used by a "macro" brewer, it would be derided as an "ABOMINATION" and attacked as being done simply for economic reasons.

    Similar to the geekery's changed opinion on brewing techniques like high gravity brewing, force carbonation, non-barley grain adjunct usage, adjuncts in sugar/syrup form, speeded-up lagering, hop pellets/extract, enzyme-usage, non-traditional flavoring ingredients, etc.
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  17. zid

    zid Meyvn (1,333) Feb 15, 2010 New York
    Society Trader

    Absolute truth.
  18. stevepat

    stevepat Crusader (783) Mar 12, 2013 California

    Yep seed saving is a wonderful way to get better produce from your garden. Especially in conjunction with compost! And no experimental biotech required
  19. zid

    zid Meyvn (1,333) Feb 15, 2010 New York
    Society Trader

    I'm not making a case for (or against) GMOs, and there are certainly different degrees of messing around with nature, but the hops, barley, and yeast used to make the beer you're currently drinking are all cases of messing around with "mother nature."
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  20. rgordon

    rgordon Savant (975) Apr 26, 2012 North Carolina

    The thing is the best and most productive plants are volunteers that emerge anywhere I've used compost.
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  21. MNAle

    MNAle Poo-Bah (1,565) Sep 6, 2011 Minnesota

    I'm shocked, SHCOKED, I tell you, to realize that Citra® is not a naturally occurring plant!
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  22. hoptualBrew

    hoptualBrew Defender (616) May 29, 2011 Florida

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  23. billandsuz

    billandsuz Devotee (408) Sep 1, 2004 New York

    Brewers yeast are really delicate flowers that we as brewers go through great lengths to satisfy. Brewers yeast are the result of years and years of selective breeding and a spectacular attention to circumstances. We did not get these specialty yeast strains by accident. It took a hell of a lot of coddling.

    GMO, in itself, is not really something we need to be overly worried about. Living in a college town that has a world renowned Ag school I can tell you with certainty that the PhD folks who work on this stuff are mostly smart hippies and have no desire to ruin the planet. Could not be farther from that in fact. I mean you don't dedicate a lifetime of study discovering the mechanism to increase vitamin C in a tomato because you are immoral or see it as a fast buck.

    Once Giant Corporate America gets hold of an important innovation, yeah, they take the reward and the rest of us deal with the risk. That is the downside of GMO. GMO is a political risk IMO.

    I will add that there is a unique western habit of hating on increased crop yield, disease resistance and all the other things GMO crops bring to the world.
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  24. sweetleaf71

    sweetleaf71 Initiate (37) Jul 1, 2019 New Jersey

    Well if it’s only the yeast that’s being bioengineered then I don’t see it being a crazy issue. This is a craft that people care a lot about and no craft brewer would openly use terribly altered ingredients if it wasn’t safe for you and able to create an entirely new product.
  25. pweis909

    pweis909 Poo-Bah (1,841) Aug 13, 2005 Wisconsin

    @billandsuz’s comments reflects my thoughts pretty accurately. Maybe not surprising since I got my degree from the Ag school he references. The political risk applies to any technology in a system that values corporate profit over social responsibility.

    In this particular case, the proposed modification appears to involve a gene that is common if not ubiquitous across the planet. THis gmo carries low risk of environmental or health problems. The biggest risk is at a brewhouse that doesn’t want to make sour beer, and that risk is the same as other contaminants, well, lower I should think, since the purpose seems to be to insert a gene into an organism that is more easily controlled in a brew house than bacteria.
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  26. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,155) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    Why would sanitation to mitigate cross contamination of a yeast be different from sanitation to mitigate contamination of bacteria?

  27. pweis909

    pweis909 Poo-Bah (1,841) Aug 13, 2005 Wisconsin

    Well, perhapsit doesn’t. I think I am guilty of conflating fermentation control with sanitation control in that particular thought. We tend to control brewhouse contaminants with the same means, so I’ll back down from that assertion a little. However, if forced to defend it, perhaps smaller body sizes enabling them to find micro-refugia in cracks and crevices that yeast don’t access?
    billandsuz likes this.
  28. stevepat

    stevepat Crusader (783) Mar 12, 2013 California

    Problem is that GMO technology promises those things but so far pretty much just delivers herbicide resistance. And now an apple that won't brown after being cut up and packaged. I'd love to see some of the potential benefits from GMO actualized but for now all we are getting is unknown risks and increased toxin presence in the food chain and on our farm land. Oh and increased cost to farmers and higher agritech profits
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  29. billandsuz

    billandsuz Devotee (408) Sep 1, 2004 New York

    Good points all.

    I'll counter that increased toxin presence is not accurate, except that agriculture has been pesticide and herbicide reliant for decades and GMO crops have not necessarily increased the use of these chemicals but rather have allowed for very targeted use of selected chemicals. In other words the chemicals can be applied at precisely the amount required. With the very important caveat that the required amount is not something you or I get a vote. Agri Business gets that vote. But do you have data that suggests more toxins are being served as a result of GMO?

    The risks are not quite unknown, if not entirely settled. The accepted risk is debatable. Again, Monsanto is very happy to tell their story... My endocrinologist has a distinctly different understanding. Long term exposure is really a cause for concern.

    And whats so bad about snow white apple slices?
    I live in the county adjacent to Cortland, NY and the Cortland apple is well known for it's ability to resist browning after being cut open. Something to do with the cell structure. Pomologists are studying this unique ability. Try it out. They are great!

    OK, enough heavy politics.

    Give me a beer yeast that can do everything I want it to do. Under all circumstances. This is what brewers have been looking for. GMO is not the enemy IMO.
  30. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,155) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    I posted on this topic in a past BA homebrewing forum thread:

    “Lactobacillus delbrueckii are Gram-positive, facultatively anaerobic, non-motile and non-spore-forming, rod-shaped (cell size range = 0.5-0.8 x 2.0-9.0 mm) members of the industrially important lactic acid bacteria.”

    So in units of microns, Lactobacillus delbrueckii has a cell size = 500 – 800 x 2000 – 9000 microns.

    “Pediococcus damnosus Cell: Spherical cells (0.3-0.6 mm in diameter) that form short chains or tetrads. Non-motile, do not form spores or capsules.”

    So in units of microns: Pediococcus damnosus has a cell size of 300 – 600 microns.

    Brewers yeast is typically 5-10 microns.

    The above two bacteria are significantly larger than brewers yeast. It would seem to me that any sanitation of brewing equipment (e.g., a plastic primary bucket/carboy) that kills yeast (e.g., previous batch of brewers yeast and/or wild yeast) would also kill bacteria (like the bacteria mentioned above).

  31. hopfenunmaltz

    hopfenunmaltz Meyvn (1,466) Jun 8, 2005 Michigan

    Lactobacillus is much smaller than Brewers yeast, and can be hard to sanitize. It can get into books and crannies in the brewery. A small defect in a gasket can harbor bacteria, for example. Many brewers have separate sour facilities to keep the sour bacteria away from the clean beer. Kettle souring keeps the bacteria confined to the kettle, where it is killed by the heat of the boil.

    Check your math @JackHorzempa .
    #31 hopfenunmaltz, Sep 16, 2019
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2019
  32. pweis909

    pweis909 Poo-Bah (1,841) Aug 13, 2005 Wisconsin

    I get that those issues leave a bad taste in your mouth but I feel that those are indictments of big agri business and not the tech itself. Bring it back to beer - do the same problems really apply?
  33. pweis909

    pweis909 Poo-Bah (1,841) Aug 13, 2005 Wisconsin

    I fall upon my sword.
  34. rgordon

    rgordon Savant (975) Apr 26, 2012 North Carolina

    I've kind of always realized that everything we do and produce is naturally occurring, and that science wins some and loses some. And it's all science really. Mystery and adventure and art have a sway with me as well. I do like the mix.
  35. hopfenunmaltz

    hopfenunmaltz Meyvn (1,466) Jun 8, 2005 Michigan

    Jack, you have some statements that don't pass the sniff test. The links didn't open for me.

    Bacteria are in the 1 to 2 micron range. The numbers you have, say 300 microns for pedio translates to 0.3 mm, which is visible. A thick human hair is about .180 mm, or 180 microns, we can see that diameter.
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  36. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,155) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    Jeff, I did not ‘create’ the information I listed in quotes. I got them from the two linked sources that now no longer seem to be active.

    “Below is something I obtained from a web search today:

    Search Results

    Featured snippet from the web

    Image result for size of lactobacillus

    Lactobacillus are generally nonmotile and can survive in both aerobic and anaerobic environments. L. delbrueckii, the type species of the genus, is 0.5 to 0.8 micrometre (μm; 1 μm = 10−6 metre) across by 2 to 9 μm long and occurs singly or in small chains.”

    So, Lactobacillus is a ‘rod’ with the longest dimension being 9 μm in length.

    The conversion of μm to microns is 1:1. So the length of the Lactobacillus will be 9 microns which is comparable in size to Brewers yeast (Brewers yeast is typically 5-10 microns).

  37. Ranbot

    Ranbot Champion (876) Nov 27, 2006 Pennsylvania

    GMO produced insulin was a big win that no one is complaining about now; people inject it straight into their bodies even. I also think it's closer example to the GMO-yeasts discussed in the OP than GMO-crop issues.
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  38. hopfenunmaltz

    hopfenunmaltz Meyvn (1,466) Jun 8, 2005 Michigan

    That's more of the size. The rods can hide in places the yeast can't. Micheal Tonsemere has some rundowns of what Brewers do in as cleaning regimes in "American Wild Ale".

    @OldSock may comment if he is still around.
  39. pweis909

    pweis909 Poo-Bah (1,841) Aug 13, 2005 Wisconsin

    @JackHorzempa and @hopfenunmaltz

    Here is a photo of interest. (assumes you can access , you may need to scroll down; images of Saccharomyces and Lactobacillus plantarum, coexisting). It suggests to me both that Jack is right, about the length, but also one could imagine the skinny rod slipping deeper into some scratches where yeast doesn't slip into. In any event, it's barely relevant to this thread. We've latched on to a fairly minor point.
    JackHorzempa likes this.
  40. hopfenunmaltz

    hopfenunmaltz Meyvn (1,466) Jun 8, 2005 Michigan

    One of the selling points for using the yeast.

    Since lacto strains reproduce anerobically, in low pH, just missing a few can spoil the beer.