Would you drink seaweed beer?

  Last updated May 20, 2019 at 10:32 am

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Queensland scientists have created seaweed beer – are you game?


Moreton Bae seaweed beer


In a move that would be sure to have the Germans turning up their nose in disgust, Queensland researchers have begun flavouring beer with seaweed.


In the latest in a long line of attempts by scientists to mess with our favourite foods, an aquaculturist from the University of the Sunshine Coast has joined forces with Brisbane’s Newstead Brewing to create what they’re claiming to be the first beer to feature Australian-farmed seaweed.


On sale in Queensland as the Moreton Bae Resalinated Gose, the beer is in the German Gose style. Historically a lightly sour, wheat-driven beer and incorporating spices such as coriander, it is slightly salty reflecting the mineral-rich water supplies of the town where it was invented, Goslar in central Germany.


To recreate the salty nature of a gose, the brewers start with completely desalinated water, and then add seaweed grown at a USC facility on Bribie Island. Allowed to steep, the salts and minerals from the seaweed leech out, giving the brewers a briny water to use in the brew.


“We also left out the coriander because we wanted some of those marine volatiles and the spiciness from the seaweed to shine,” says Evan Goulden, a former marine microbiologist turned brewer.


Seaweed as a source of minerals


Goulden teamed up with Associate Professor of Aquaculture Nick Paul to develop the beer.


“Seaweed will actually filter out the very best minerals from the ocean so it has nutritious elements like potassium, magnesium and in this case zinc and iron,” says Paul.


“This particular sea lettuce, called ulva, has more iron than spinach. Other seaweeds have more potassium than bananas.”


What does it taste like? We haven’t had the chance to try it ourselves yet, but reviews on beer site Untapped suggest it resembles a “slightly fruity ocean” or “salty cider.” Its fair to say some liked it, others did not.


Future food


For the scientists it’s not just about trying to create tastier beer. To them, seaweed is a fast-growing, tasty and nutritious future food source.


“We actually have thousands of species of seaweed off the coast of Australia and none of them are being used commercially, so there is this huge bounty of opportunity,” says Paul.


“Different seaweeds have different properties and it’s all about finding the right seaweed for the right application and working with the right partners to do that.”


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About the Author

Ben Lewis
Ben Lewis is the Editor of Australia’s Science Channel, and a contributor to Cosmos Magazine. He has worked with scientists and science storytellers including Brian Cox, Chris Hadfield, Robert Llewellyn, astronauts, elite athletes, Antarctic explorers, chefs and comedians. Ben has also been involved in public events around Australia and was co-writer, producer and director of The Science of Doctor Who, which toured nationally in 2014 in association with BBC Worldwide Australia & New Zealand. Want more Ben? You can hear him on ABC and commercial radio in Adelaide, regional SA, across NSW, and the ACT. He also speaks at universities around Australia on communicating science to the public. Around the office he makes the worst jokes known to mankind.

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