Beer, Bread, and Biotech was the final outreach event for the YEASTCELL project. 3 ESRs, Frederico, Anja, and David provided fantastic content for the exhibition part of the event. They have to be commended on their excellent skills for representing science graphically, and for willingly giving their time when they are all in their final stages of their PhDs. They were on hand throughout the evening to discuss the history of lager yeast, brewing, winemaking, flavours, and the importance of ongoing yeast research to meet societal and environmental challenges.
The exhibition covered a range of topics from the historical applications of yeast in food and beverage production, to current developments in yeast biotechnology and the most modern applications of yeast cell factories and yeast engineering. YEASTCELL coordinator, John Morrissey, also gave a fascinating lecture on the history of yeast biotechnology and brewing in Europe. He mentioned the recent identification of the ‘missing parent’ species that hybridised with Saccharomyces cerevisiae resulting in the lager yeast Saccharomyces pastorianus. The crowd were delighted to learn that the man responsible for this discovery, Diego Libkind, was in the audience for the evening. Attendees were also treated to a tasting of H41, the new Heineken beer made with the yeast that Diego identified in Patagonia.
In addition to the exhibition and talk, researchers from UCC had baked bread and prepared kefir and kombucha for attendees to taste; the Franciscan Well, a local pub, were offering beer tastings; YEASTCELL partner Evolva presented their research on Resveratrol; Lallemand offered tastings of two wines identical except for the yeast used to produce them; and David Ferreira had the prize-winning ‘Dom Beerignon’ on offer for tastings.
All in all, it was a really enjoyable event that gave Cork people a chance to engage with the fascinating research going on in Europe. It also gave some historical and societal context to the world of biotechnology. Attendees left with new understanding of and respect for the valuable potential of yeast research, EU-funded projects, and the ability of microbes to solve as many of societies current problems, as they have in the past.