A probiotic Mike's Hard Lemonade isn't something any of us asked for, but if a group of Singapore scientists get their way, we could soon see something like it sold on shelves somewhere between the All-Day IPA and Bud Light. Researchers at the Food Science and Technology Programme at the National University of Singapore have developed a new probiotic beer, the first of its kind to join the ranks of kimchi and Greek yogurt in harnessing bacteria to aid the digestive system. The process has been tricky for scientists to master, since the highly-concentrated hop acids in beer usually kill off any probiotic bacteria.
The key for Chan Mei Zhi Alcine, a fourth year student at the university, was using the strain Lactobacillus paracasei L26, a species of bacteria isolated from human intestines capable of neutralizing harmful toxins and viruses, and regulating the immune system. The strain proved powerful enough to overcome any of the hops acids, giving the sour beer that resulted the 1 billion probiotics per serving that the International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics recommends for optimal health benefits.
"It will utilize sugars present in the wort to produce sour-tasting lactic acid, resulting in a beer with sharp and tart flavors (not unlike a hard lemonade). The final product, which takes around a month to brew, has an alcohol content of about 3.5 per cent,” said Chan in a statement released with the findings.
The researchers are still a ways away from selling their beverage. Chan and her advisor on the project, associate professor Liu Shao Quan, are in the process of patenting the product and collaborating with industry members to begin selling their yet to be named beer.
Until the beer's release it remains to be seen just how it's going to taste, and whether anyone will be willing to swap out a perfectly good sour ale for a half-kombucha, half-Amstel Light hybrid.