Can Thiolized IPAs Help the Environment?

Eliminating the overuse of raw materials is a possible positive side effect of the use of thiols in yeast and hops in creating new varieties of IPAs.

Brewer chatted recently in separate conversions with Brandon Capps of New Image and Jason Spaulding of Brewery Vivant/Broad Leaf about Phantasm powder or thiolized yeasts like Cosmic Punch from Omega and the benefits that it brings to adding hop-like aromas without the vegetal material left behind.

“Ultimately, from an environmental standpoint, we’re seeing more and more challenges,” Capps lamented to Brewer. “We’ve been seeing more and more climate affected. Changes in hop yields over the years, it’s been a couple years in a row now of it not being so great. And we’re seeing more and more challenges with freight.”

So Capps said he and the New Image team have been thinking about environmental goals about shrinking their ingredient footprint.

“Hops are one of the most challenging things because they’re very sensitive to growing regions,” he said. “But there might be ways to accomplish this that aren’t always just looking at using more raw material that produces different outcomes.”

READ MORE: Want to Market a Thiolized IPA? Try This

As for cost-effectiveness, one of the advantages that Phantasm provides is that it’s used at such a low dosage rate that it offsets freight costs to be shipped from New Zealand, Capps said.

“The relative amount that we’re using … 80 kilograms, a package of Phantasm is lasting us six months to a year versus 80 kilograms of hops might be a batch of beer,” he said. “So the amount of longevity we can get out of that ingredient for its relative carbon footprint to get to us is significant.

“A significant reduction from that of the same flavors we’re getting from hops. So the Phantasm is fitting into a bigger picture for us to be better stewards of ingredients and producing beers that are more sustainable and more thoughtful of the realities that are facing in a sense.

“There really is a huge opportunity here to make more fermentation-derived beer that people actually want by being better stewards of ingredients and better stewards of freight.”

Brewery Vivant has experimented in a variety of ways with thioloized yeast strains and has a great working relationship with producer Omega.

“We took it from a scientific standpoint, let’s see what happens with no hops. All right, let’s see what happens with just kettle hopping and no other hops,” Spaulding explained. “Alright, let’s try it with just a thiol and dry hopping … so it’s like a constant experiment, to kind of see what’s worked and what hasn’t worked.”

The Brewery Vivant and Broad Leaf teams will taste these small batches and come up with a consensus.

“It’s hop-like, but it’s not hoppy enough,” he said of some of the trials and R&D batches. “I don’t think you can do an all-thiol IPA and pass it off as an IPA. It might be its own thing. It tastes interesting but we felt it needed traditional hops too.

“You can reduce the hops you use and use that as an accent to get there. That’s where we concluded it to. It’s not a replacement. It’s more of an enhancement.”

There’s also the flip side of this, Spaulding pointed out, which is all the genetic modifications being done to yeast to get to these strains.

“How do we feel about this? There are questions that my wife (Kris Spaulding) and I ask, are we okay with this? We are questioning that in our food stream. But now with the yeast? Sure, let’s do it,” he said, noting the hypocrisy of it. “It seems somewhat conflicting.

“She’s on the BA board, and they polled brewers to see how they felt about this modification thing. No one even seems to be worried about it. So it’s kind of interesting.”

But, you can do more with less in that aspect and that’s always attractive from a sustainability standpoint, he added.

“I mean, we’re putting ridiculous amounts of hops in beer right now and it pushes the cost up so high,” Spaulding said. “All the vegetation in your fermenters, it’s just ridiculous.”

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