Brewers use ingredients to make beer (yes) but also tell stories. Yeast is perhaps the most important ingredient in the brewing process (responsible for converting sugar to precious alcohol and carbon dioxide in the fermentation stage), and it’s a great ingredient for telling a few tales. First off, yeast is actually a living thing. Yeast is a single-celled organism (a fungus) metabolizing, reproducing and living off the ingredients in the beer. It’s also a little creature you can find living and breeding in a lot of weird places. Here are some examples (grossest from the top):
- Remember those Polish sociopaths who used yeast from a model’s vagina to brew a beer?
- Remember that Beard Beer, featuring a yeast strain cultivated from Rogue Ale’s Brewer John Maier’s chin?
- Remember that time Ninkasi Brewing used yeast that had actually been shot into space for its bourbon barrel-aged imperial stout?
Well, let’s add another layer of weird to the list. A Victorian craft brand named 7 Cent Brewery from Gisborne South, northwest of Melbourne, Australia, says it has brewed beer using a strain of yeast grown from “navel fluff.” The brewery plans on unveiling the appropriately named Belly Button Beer at the 2016 Great Australasian Beer SpecTAPular (GABS) in May. Where did this belly button fluff come from? We turn to the 7 Cent website:
The process of isolating our own yeast strain involved swabbing samples of each of the brewer’s belly buttons and getting our full science on by streaking out the samples on agar plates. After allowing the plates to incubate, we found all sorts of interesting things growing, including what appeared to be colonies of yeast. Positive controls were used to help us identify yeast colonies and negative controls were used to ensure our techniques were sterile. We selected individual yeast colonies and grew them up until we had pitchable quantities for trial batches. Tasting the sample batches from each brewer was great fun and we selected the one that we thought had the best character as our GABS beer. We then grew the selected yeast strain to a pitchable quantity for an 800L batch.
There you have it. 7 Cent calls the beer a “new world-ish Belgian-ish Witbier” with fresh orange zest and toasted coriander seeds. Apparently the yeast exhibited qualities of Belgian beer with characteristics of spiciness, clove and light banana esters. Riwaka and Mosaic hops were added to increase the citrus qualities, and four different grains were also used, including barley, wheat, oats and rye. The inspiration actually came from the Rogue Beard Beer mentioned above. From the site:
We tried [Rogue Beard Beer] and instantly started talking about other places you could capture yeast from. We are really interested to see if the idea of drinking something that originated from a brewer’s belly button is too much for even the most hardened beer geek. Once you get used to the idea that yeast is yeast no matter where you get it from and that the water we drink is really recycled dinosaur urine, then you can just sit back and enjoy the beer…..in theory.
It’s hard to argue with that logic.