Ninkasi sends yeast into space

The spores will be used to brew an Imperial Stout, which will be available in April.

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A program launched by Eugene-based Ninkasi Brewing Company is sending yeast to space, returning it to Earth, and using it to brew an Imperial Stout that will be available in April.

From the company’s news release:

Seven years after Ninkasi Brewing Company, an independent craft brewery based in Eugene, Ore., opened its doors, the brewery decided the sky was not the limit. In 2014, the brewery’s co-founders embarked on a new kind of mission – the Ninkasi Space Program (NSP), with one ultimate goal: send brewer’s yeast to space, return it to Earth and use it to brew delicious craft beer. After a successful rocket launch in October 2014 from Spaceport America, Ninkasi is proud to introduce Ground Control, an Imperial Stout brewed with Oregon hazelnuts, star anise and cocoa nibs and fermented with an Ale yeast that survived a trip to space and back. Ground Control will be available April 13, 2015, in limited edition 22-ounce bottles at select retailers across the country.

“After almost two years of research, development, lab time, and two separate rocket launches to garner space yeast, we have finally completed our mission,” says Nikos Ridge, Ninkasi CEO and co-founder. “It was a project born out of passionate people coming together to try something new and we can’t wait to share it with the world.”

In July, 2014, Mission One of NSP took flight as a rocket launched by the Civilian Space eXploration Team (CSXT) and Team Hybriddyne made its way to space, carrying 16 vials of brewer’s yeast. Due to unforeseen circumstances, the payload of yeast remained lost on the desert floor of Nevada’s Black Rock Desert for 27 days, leaving the yeast not viable for brewing. In October, 2014, a second opportunity presented itself for Mission Two with private spaceflight corporation, UP Aerospace Inc.. This time, six vials of brewer’s yeast traveled 77.3 miles in altitude aboard a rocket, and returned safely to Earth. The result: healthy, hungry and viable yeast, ready for brewing. The yeast was cold-transported back to Ninkasi’s lab in Eugene, where it was propagated and tested before being used to ferment its first beer, Ground Control.

“This is all about exploring the future of brewing,” says Jamie Floyd, Ninkasi founding-brewer and co-founder. “While these groups are working to push the boundaries of access to space, we are hoping that our missions will help propel the brewing industry forward – well into the future.”

Ninkasi worked hand-in-hand with gig poster artist, Neal Williams to create the key art that inspired the label and special edition packaging for Ground Control. The Eugene-based illustrator and screenprinter whose works include concert posters for Queens of the Stone Age, Dave Matthews Band, Interpol, and The Head & The Heart, drew from his own fascination with space, sci-fi and retrofuturism to create the art behind the beer. Williams’ artwork will be featured on Ground Control merchandise, including limited edition serigraph posters, hand numbered and signed by the artist, available for purchase online.

Ground Control stats
Ground Control boldly combines local and out-of-this-world ingredients. This rich, complex Imperial Stout is brewed with Oregon hazelnuts, star anise and cocoa nibs, and fermented with an Ale yeast that survived a trip to space and back. Mankind will enjoy the sweet finesse of this beer that only fares better with time.

  • Style: Imperial Stout Brewed with Oregon Hazelnuts, Star Anise, Cocoa Nibs, and Ale Yeast Sent Into Space
  • Available: April 13, 2015
  • ABV: 10.0%
  • IBU: 80
  • OG: 1100
  • Malt: 2-Row Pale, Black, Chocolate, Munich, Crystal, Honey, Special Roast, Peated
  • Hops: Apollo, Bravo, Comet
  • Packaging: 22oz. Bottles
  • Distribution: Alaska; Alberta; Arizona; California; Colorado; Idaho; Nevada; Oregon; Washington; Vancouver, British Columbia; and select retailers across the country.


A related video:

In other brew news, Barrel & Keg opened farther north in the Willamette Valley.

The Salem-based bottle shop and taproom will offer more than 100 varieties of Pacific Northwest craft beers as well as cider and wine offerings, the Statesman Journal reports.

Barrel & Keg isn’t just a retail operation, it’s also got a large tasting bar with 10 rotating taps of beers, 2 taps of rotating cider and 1 tap of non-alcholholic root beer on tap. Owners Justin and Shannon Klopfenstein have also installed a special wine vending system and are able to offer an amazing 23 wines by the glass. The system replaces oxygen with nitrogen in the open bottles to help prevent the open-bottles of wine from oxidizing. Each glass of wine tastes like it’s poured from a bottle that’s been freshly uncorked.

On top of all, this is a warm and kid-friendly atmosphere, comfortable tables for patrons to sit and enjoy their drinks plus food is available from one of the two regular or two rotating food trucks parked out back in Salem’s first food truck pod. In a nice technical touch, one of the food trucks has a cell phone number so that you can just text your order and someone will bring the food in and deliver it to you.

The grand opening is scheduled for March 27.