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).