This might seem really gross to you, and in a way it is: John Maier, a brewmaster at Oregon brewery Rogue Ales, made a beer using yeast collected from his beard. And, just as a comedian waits for applause, we will now wait for you to go vomit.
OK, if you’re back now, we will tell you that while your impulse to vomit was totally justified — you should also know this guy hasn’t shaved since 1978, which is probably how his beard managed to collect so much brewing debris — the truth is that the yeast used for fermentation just likes to live in places that are disgusting. Like animal hair, rotten fruit, and insects. So should you feel somehow less grossed out because yeast is just inherently gross? Only you can answer this.
Before using the yeast, Maier sent it to a lab for testing, and they discovered that it functioned more or less like the other yeasts they are using. So, could they have just kind of used it without telling anyone? Yes, of course they could have, but that would have deprived them of a marketing gimmick, and since they are a business and all, we don’t begrudge them that. They are calling the beer New Crustacean, and we’re not sure it was necessary to re-grossify this whole process by reminding us that this guy more or less has creatures in his beard and we are more or less drinking him. Hopefully the conversations started in bars across the land will yield relationships that justify this activation of our gag reflex.
- Brewmaster Makes Beer From His Beard Yeast, Smithsonian
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