A batch of ancient pale ale by Fossil Fuels Brewing Company. @fossilfuelsbeer

The beer made from 45-million-year-old yeast

In the early 1990s, a California professor stunned the scientific community by reviving 45-million-year-old yeast — and using it to make beer.

Raul Cano, a microbiologist at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, found the spores in the gut of an ancient bee encased in tropical amber and spread it on a growth medium to see what would happen. Astonishingly, they woke up. Once confirmed, the achievement forced scientists to reexamine long-held beliefs about the limits of life.

Fossil Fuel’s Saison. (@fossilfuelsbeer)

For a while, Cano thought the discovery might make him rich. It didn’t. But a thought occurred to him. His spores resembled brewer’s yeast: Could he make beer with them? He made a batch on a lark and served it at his daughter’s wedding. After some fits and starts, the experiment led to a collaboration with a brewer under the name Fossil Fuels Brewing Company in 2008. Its introductory pale ale, by many accounts, was good. William Brand, a former critic with The Oakland Tribune, raved about it, noting an “intriguing, very odd spicy note” in the finish. Even so, Fossil Fuels’ beers never quite caught on. But that doesn’t mean they won’t yet. Cano, a master of bringing the dormant to life, has said he won’t give up. WIRED | The Tribune

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