“Normally you take DNA out of some species such as cats, tigers and cows, and you look at how similar the DNA is. The cat is much closer on the tree to a tiger than a cow. So if you like a cat, chances are you also like a tiger. And we want to do the same with beers.”
That’s the goal of Swiss scientist Gianpaolo Rando: To create a beer genome tree that will help people better figure out what beer to drink.
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Rando got the idea out of having too many choices at Switzerland’s more than 500 microbreweries. With craft beer lists getting longer and more obscure, how does one know what to pick? You can have probable success picking a wheat beer if you know you enjoyed that style in the past, but there are so many factors in play that it’s not a guarantee.
Rando wants to change that by analyzing the DNA of as many beer varieties as possible -- 1,000 to start -- and saying for sure that since these are the genes, it’s similar to this, this and this beer.
“When microbreweries do their beer, there are thousands of different yeasts they can choose, 200 or more hops, the grains are more limited, but if you just do the combination there are thousands of different beer possibilities,” he explained. “So the idea is to get inside into the biochemical composition of beers, and now we can identify them. If you like one beer, you could just see on the tree what is closer to what you already like, and you have maybe high confidence to choose something you like.”
Rando and his team have so far decoded 50 beers, and are raising money on Kickstarter to fund more. They hope to turn the project, which they’re calling BeerDeCoded, into an app so people anywhere could access and use to order the perfect beer.