Yesterday, CNN reported on Rogue, a brewery in Oregon, that has recently been crafting a new beer using wild yeast harvested from their brewmaster John Maier's 34-year-old beard. "Ew, gross," you probably say, but Maier doesn't know what the big deal is — "Yeast is everywhere."
That's true. Yeast is everywhere, even (as we ladies well know) buried deep inside our vaginas, waiting to go bad and ruin our week at any moment. But does that mean that we could possibly brew beer using the cause of one of our more common south of the border infections? Is "turn a yeast infection into a full-bodied IPA" the new "make lemons into lemonade?" We did some research and, in a word, no. The yeast used in beer is a completely different strain of yeast than the one that causes yeast infections. And there goes your artisanal brewery idea!
The yeast used in beer is called Saccharomyces cerevisiae and works by converting carbohydrates to carbon dioxide and alcohols. This is also the yeast used in bread, which is why baking yeast can be used to brew beer, though it generally makes the end product doughy in flavor and texture. Yeast infections are caused by Candida albicans, a fungus that grows as both yeast and filamentous cells and can cause oral and genital infections in humans. Using this to brew would be entirely ineffective, not to mention, guh-ross.
There are some examples of women using their natural yeast in the beer brewing process, but only ever in addition to typical beer yeast. This could ruin the beer's flavor though it probably wouldn't disrupt the creation entirely. More than likely, the only effect that using your vaginal yeast for beer brewing would have is that some people would really want to try your beer, while most people would never take a drink of anything you offer ever again.
But why did it work with Maier's beard yeast? Chances are that Saccharomyces cerevisiae was able to cultivate in his facial hair at some point between now and the 1970s.
Image via Harris Shiffman/Shutterstock.