The specialty sour beer incorporates the probiotic strain Lactobacillus paracasei L26, which was first isolated from human intestines and has the ability to neutralize toxins and viruses, as well as regulate the immune system.
“The health benefits of probiotics are well known,” says Chan Mei Zhi Alcine, a student in the Food Science and Technology Programme in the National University of Singapore’s Faculty of Science.
“While good bacteria are often present in food that have been fermented, there are currently no beers in the market that contain probiotics. Developing sufficient counts of live probiotics in beer is a challenging feat as beers contain hop acids that prevent the growth and survival of probiotics.”
Studies have shown that consuming food and beverages with live counts of probiotics are more effective in delivering health effects than eating those with inactive probiotics. Currently, the recommendation by the International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics is to have a minimum of 1 billion probiotics per serving in order to attain the maximum health benefits.
Under the supervision of associate professor Liu Shao Quan from the NUS Food Science and Technology Programme, Chan took about nine months to come up with an ideal recipe that achieves the optimal count of live probiotics in the beer.
By propagating the probiotic and yeast in pure cultures, and modifying conventional brewing and fermentation processes, Chan managed to increase and maintain the live counts of the strain of probiotic.
“For this beer, we used a lactic acid bacterium as a probiotic microorganism. It will utilize sugars present in the wort to produce sour-tasting lactic acid, resulting in a beer with sharp and tart flavors. The final product, which takes around a month to brew, has an alcohol content of about 3.5 percent,” explains Chan.
The research team has filed a patent on their recipe.
“The general health benefits associated with consuming food and beverages with probiotic strains have driven demand dramatically,” says Liu. “In recent years, consumption of craft or specialty beers has gained popularity too. Alcine’s invention is placed in a unique position that caters to these two trends.”