What happens to people when they go to space? Well, their muscles get weaker, their bones deteriorate and their immune systems suffer. Despite all that, they have one hell of a story to tell. What happens to other stuff we shoot out into the cosmos? Does it come back changed? Is its structure different? Is it infused with awesome alien DNA that will turn us all into gelatinous blobs if we ingest it?
Because we’re definitely going to ingest it.
Ninkasi Brewing Co. is looking to find out, which is to say that Ninkasi’s Ground Control, space-themed beer is coming back out. You see, it’s brewed with space yeast, which now explains that lede. The Eugene, Ore.-based craft brewery is releasing its second edition of Bourbon Barrel-Aged Ground Control. Brewed with Oregon hazelnuts, star anise and cocoa nibs, this imperial stout is fermented with an ale yeast that survived a trip to space. Crazy shit, right? The beer was also barrel-aged for four months and blended. Bourbon Barrel-Aged Ground Control can be found in limited-edition 22-ounce bottles starting April 12 throughout Ninkasi’s distribution territory.
“Ground Control lives on; first with yeast into space and now into barrels, we are thrilled to carry on the excitement of space and brewing exploration,” says Nikos Ridge, Ninkasi co-founder and CEO. “The frenzy around Ground Control’s first release extended beyond our expectations; we look forward to bringing another iteration to more beer and science lovers.”
What’s the back story here?
Glad you asked: The story behind Ground Control’s creation began in July 2014 with Mission One of NSP. In partnership with the Civilian Space eXploration Team (CSXT) and Team Hybriddyne, Ninkasi loaded a rocket with 16 vials of brewer’s yeast. A series of unexpected circumstances led to tracking issues, leaving the payload lost on the floor of the Black Rock Desert for 27 days. Due to the extreme desert heat, the yeast was not viable for brewing. An opportunity for Mission Two presented itself with UP Aerospace Inc., a private spaceflight corporation, and in October 2014, six vials of brewer’s yeast traveled above earth’s atmosphere from Spaceport America on an SL-9 rocket. The yeast returned to earth and was immediately transported back to Ninkasi’s lab to begin propagation and brewing.
What’s just as cool? Each 22-ounce bottle of Ground Control features a collectible outer-box illustrated by Eugene-based gig poster artist and illustrator, Neal Williams. Look at this guy’s awesome art. In a partnership between Ninkasi’s in-house art department and Williams, the beer’s artwork (see above) features a psychedelic view of space with floating astronauts and barrels. Williams’ artwork can also be found on limited edition merchandise celebrating the release of Ground Control available at nsp.ninkasibrewing.com.