Bioengineering Beer Foam

Reporting in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, Tomás G. Villa and colleagues devised a recipe for improving beer foam. They identified a gene in brewer's yeast that prolongs beer foam lifespan by making a protein that protects the bubbles. They say they've brewed beers with heads that stay frothy for several hours.

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FLORA LICHTMAN, HOST:

And one last salute to science before the weekend. Here are some news you can raise the glass to. Microbiologist Tomas Villa and colleagues report that they may be able to bioengineer better beer foam. That's right.

TOMAS G. VILLA: Beer foam. Foam is what you like the most in a beer. And a beer drinker wants foam to stay longer, right?

LICHTMAN: Of course. And the secret to long-lasting froth, proteins, produced by barley and yeast during fermentation.

VILLA: The hydroforming portion of the protein sticks inside the bubble and the hydrophilic bubbles of protein sticks out of the bubble.

LICHTMAN: The protein coat stabilizes the bubble, leading to a longer lifespan. Villa and colleagues identified the gene in a lager yeast strain that codes for this protein. And they say they can insert it into other brewer's yeast, producing beer with foamy heads that can last for hours. Cheers.

You can learn more about Dr. Tomas Gonzales Villa's research on our website, along with everything else on our website, including a video tour of Dr. Oliver Sacks' desk. I don't think you want to miss that.

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