Space Beer

Last week, Sapporo announced that they would soon be serving space beer, "the world's first beer made with barley descending from plants grown inside the International Space Station."
    The barley used in the new beer is a third-generation offshoot of the original plant stored for five months in a Russian laboratory in the station. The company has made only 100 liters of the new brew, named Sapporo Space Barley, which is not for sale. Sapporo says the beer is safe because it has tested microbes in it and did tests with lab animals and Sapporo employees, too. It also says that the space beer tastes just like regular beer.
For obvious reasons, this brings to mind China's space seed project, in which "space breeding" puts astronomy to work in the service of contemporary agriculture.
    Plant seeds have been blasted into orbit in the hope that "space breeding" holds the key to improving crop yields and disease resistance. Wheat and barley strains developed by the Department of Agriculture and Food in Western Australia (WA) have just landed back on Earth following a 15-day orbital cruise on board China's Shijian-8 satellite. "Space-breeding refers to the technique of sending seeds into space in a recoverable spacecraft or a high-altitude balloon," said Agriculture WA barley breeder Chengdao Li. "In the high-vacuum, micro-gravity and strong-radiation space environment, seeds may undergo mutation."
While this certainly offers landscape architects an unearthly way to boost their horticultural repertoire, it also shows that specialty foods cultivated through genetic interaction with the universe might yet find a comfortable place in the human food chain.
Sipping space beer, ingesting astronomical influence, welcoming literally non-terrestrial nutrition into the planetary web of caloric intake, we'll find that Sapporo's newest beer brings a suitably alien tenor to the local amnesia of alcoholic intoxication.

(Earlier on BLDGBLOG: Turning endangered landscapes into beer).

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Blogger Ashwin Sodhi said...

"Space beer taste just like regular beer"??? Then why they bloody hell did you do it, when, instead of more gimmicks, it might occur to you that the additive-heavy adjunct piss you pass off for beer could actually use some taste? This new years, I'm thankful for the resurgence of craft breweries who actually use real ingredients to make tasty beer.

December 09, 2008 10:59 AM  
Blogger Eschate said...

It’s interesting that the space breeding project is going after random mutations due to increased radiation exposure rather than more directed genetic engineering—perhaps they feel that the best inventions (the most appropriate word for our current crops) happen by chance.

December 09, 2008 2:24 PM  
Blogger modefier said...

There's a sycamore tree in Philadelphia which a plaque announces is grown from seeds that went to space and back (or possibly the moon?).

December 09, 2008 2:37 PM  
Blogger Geoff Manaugh said...

modefier, do you know where that tree is in Philly???

December 09, 2008 2:41 PM  
Blogger modefier said...

It was the moon, and it's on
Washington Square
.


Things do seem different depending on where they've been — cf. books you take on trips, to mountain summits, say. One can imagine (channeling Manaugh) a world where premium bottled water, say, is flown to space and back for the hell of it; or even bottled there. People might buy it. It'd be a nice idea for an artwork: a blank canvas vs a blank canvas that's been to space and back. Which would you pick?

December 09, 2008 2:50 PM  
Anonymous modefier said...

In fact, there are
lots of Moon Trees all over the USA
.

December 09, 2008 3:13 PM  
Anonymous marcellafaustini said...

shiseido has an anti-aging cream, future solution, scented with space rose. according to shiseido, space rose is a plant replicated from the ones grown on space by nasa.

December 10, 2008 3:34 AM  
Anonymous bleh said...

So rather than just shoot radiation at the seeds, you fly them into space and let the SPACE radiation mutagenize them. Whoo.

December 10, 2008 7:20 PM  
Anonymous Marilyn Terrell said...

@modefier: wow, a loblolly pine space tree at the White House! Good to know.

December 14, 2008 11:07 PM  

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