StartupsTravel

Malt, Hops, Yeast—and Stardust 

They say it’s 5 o’clock somewhere—and Beau Warren, founder of Species X Beer Project, is trying to make that somewhere space. 

Some background: Warren considers himself a long-time space lover who grew up visiting the Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museum in DC. He founded Species X in September 2021, and is in the process of opening a new brick and mortar space in Columbus, OH. 

Warren splits his beer into two product lines:

  • The Silicon Species, which uses AI to generate beer recipes (cool in its own right, but not why we’re here today.)
  • The Carbon Series, which uses novel, genetically-modified yeast to brew—and includes his effort to make beer in space.

“One of the goals of Species X is to help move humanity forward,” Warren told Payload. “Civilization was formed around fermented beverages, so if people are going to go to lunar bases and eventually Mars…I want to make sure humanity has access to the right resources.”

The approach: Warren has broken the challenge of brewing in space into three steps:

  1. Tweaking recipes so they’re easier to make in space
  2. Prototyping equipment for zero-gravity brewing
  3. Figuring out how to grow beer ingredients like hops and barley in lunar and Martian regolith

Without a space background, Warren admits he’ll need help with this. “Anyone who is interested, I would love to pick their brain,” he said, adding that he “can’t progress without those connections” to the space industry. 

Step One: Warren is tackling how a recipe would need to be adapted for space mostly by reducing the reliance on ingredients that would be tough to source in orbit:

  • He’s worked with Berkeley Yeast, which produces a genetically modified yeast called Superbloom that can produce the same flavor as cascade hops without needing to use delicate hop materials.
  • He also added amylase to more efficiently transform starch into sugar, reducing the malt requirements.

Are we alone? When it comes to the drive to brew in space, the answer is decidedly no. Starbase Brewing in Texas is “the official brewery of Mars,” according to its website. Australia’s 4 Pines Brewing Company has teamed up with Saber Astronautics with the goal of creating the first space beer—including a beer bottle you can drink from in zero gravity. Brewery giant Budweiser has also declared its intention to brew the first beer on Mars.

Maybe this booze-fueled space race is the one we should have been paying attention to all along.  

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