Czech scientists are currently utilizing genetic technologies to manipulate hops used in producing beer.
Researchers working at the Biological Center of the Academy of Sciences in České Budějovice are using genetic modification tactics like the gene-editing tool CRISPR (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats) to produce newly altered and healthier hops.
Back in 2012, the CRISPR method was discovered and used to cut out harmful DNA at precise locations. This method for genetic manipulation involves harnessing the natural ability of bacteria to identify and disable foreign DNA and later be replaced.
Since its’ inception the CRISPR method has been used by farmers to produce higher crop yields with higher amounts of disease-resistant nutrients. It also achieves this without the use of chemicals and relies solely on natural bacteria.
The method has already worked with tomatoes and wheat for example but has never been done with hops until now.
The team has discovered that if they isolate the genes responsible for the production of bitter acids and make targeted changes to increase the amount of bitter acids, the beer will have more medicinal substances.
Scientists at the Biological Center of the Academy of Sciences would like to point out that there is still a long way to go towards developing healthy beer for commercial use.
The beneficial substances in the hops are still a very small percentage per liter and would not significantly benefit ones overall health.
Geneticist Tomáš Kocábek of the academy warns people not to get too excited about healthier beer as it is still alcohol after all.
“Beer would be healthier, yes, but the harmful effects of alcohol and other ingredients would outweigh the healing effects,” Kocábek tells Aktuálnê
Still, there is hope that going to the pub might someday be less harmful to our bodies. With exciting new technologies like CRISPR, there are many possibilities for advances in the medical field but that doesn’t mean they can’t be used to make better beer for the masses.