Beer brewed with novel yeast hybrid celebrates 200 years of University research and could lead to a more sustainable future

A novel hybrid yeast strain created by researchers at the Manchester Institute of Biotechnology, has been used by a local brewer to produce a new beer in time for the University’s Universally Manchester festival.

’Tales From The Past’, created in partnership with Manchester’s leading independent brewery Cloudwater Brew Co, celebrates the University’s 200th anniversary and will be launched at its bicentenary festival, where it will be available to buy from the festival bar.

Supported by a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) grant, The University of Manchester team crossed Saccharomyces jurei, a new species of yeast discovered by Delneri in 2017, with a common ale yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisae, to produce a new starter hybrid strain that enhances the aroma and flavour of the beer.

This new hybrid has several advantages over similar brewing yeasts; it has the ability to thrive at lower temperatures, adds a different flavour profile, and is able to ferment maltose and maltotriose, two abundant sugars present in the wort. These capabilities provide a range of new opportunities for brewers, with the potential for a multitude of hybrids with different fermentation characteristics.

Paul Jones, CEO of Cloudwater Brew Co, said; "It is exciting to be able to brew a beer with a brand new species of yeast and to explore the range of flavours we can create. This beer represents the possibilities of joining academia with industry and we are lucky to have access to this fount of knowledge right on our doorstep."

The University team has also been developing new hybridisation techniques. Typically, yeast hybrids grow by budding, where a new cell grows from an original ’parent’, but they are sterile. Now, using a genetic method which doubles the content of the hybrid genome, researchers have overcome infertility allowing the creation of future hybrid generations with diverse traits. These offspring can then be screened for desirable biotechnological characteristics, allowing the team to select and combine beneficial traits from different yeast species using multigenerational breeding.

As yeasts play a major role in many industrial biotechnology applications, different hybrids bred in this way pave the way for creating bespoke microbial factories that can be used to create sustainable products.

Our advances in the field of hybrid sterility will allow us to exploit the extant natural biodiversity by combining and selecting desirable traits from different yeast species via multigenerational breeding. This will significantly accelerate strain development and pave the way for a swathe of new and exciting products
As well as their familiar roles in brewing and baking, scientists use yeasts as model organisms to study how cells work. This role has placed them at the forefront of engineering biology, an emerging area of science that seeks to use nature’s own biological mechanisms to replace current, unsustainable industrial processes. As a result, the team’s novel yeast could lead to future breakthroughs in new, green pharmaceuticals and more sustainable fuels.

To launch the beer and share more about her pioneering work, Professor Delneri will give a talk at the Universally Manchester festival on Friday 7 June at 5.45pm. Tickets can be booked via the festival website.