Ninkasi Brewery has taken brewing to the next level.
Ninkasi Brewery has devoted nearly 2 years of research and development in collaboration with the Civilian Space eXploration Team(CSXT), Team Hybriddyne and UP Aerospace inc. to send several strains of brewers yeast into space. The idea being that having the yeast strains be exposed to the extreme environment of outer space may yield some interesting results during the brewing process.
If the yeast survives, will it really taste any different? I mean after all the yeast is secured in vials, inside of the payload container inside of the rocket….what does it really risk being exposed too? Gamma rays? Radiation? Even if you are a bit skeptical about the actual science behind it all, you have to admire their dedication and innovation. If nothing else, they have one hell of a marketing team at work promoting their brand!
This is the story of Ground Control.
In July of 2014 – The Ninkasi Space Program team gathered in New Mexicos Black Rock Desert, along with Team Space eXploration and Team hybriddyne to prepare for launch day.
Ninkasi’s lab tech and NSP scientist, Dana Graves began preparing the payload container for the rocket. Sixteen vials of brewers yeast, dry ice and a radio signal device would be packed into the container and then secured in the nose cone of the rocket.
After countless hours of projections, testing and research – It had all come down to this.
5…4…3…2….1 Blast off!
NSP Mission One Documentary
As soon as the rocket launched, the entire team went into high alert. It would take a mere 12 minutes for the rocket to complete it’s journey and re-enter Earth’s atmosphere once more. With the recovery site 20 miles away and the clock ticking to recover the brewers yeast before the scorching desert sun killed the worlds first ever “space” yeast, the NSP team knew they had to act quickly.
Dana Graves began leading the team to the recovery site, when the unthinkable happened. The radio signal from the rocket was lost. The NSP teams celebration had quickly turned into a scramble to recover the container. After several hours of scouring the desert without any signs of the rockets payload – the team began to fear the worse. Despite calling in aerial support from a helicopter and the entire NSP and rocket teams roaming the desert – It would be 27 days before they would finally be able to recover the payload.
While the Ninkasi Space Program wasn’t able to complete their mission, The rocketeer groups they partnered with set world records for the fastest speed, highest altitude and the first photo taken from space from an “amateur” rocket team.
In October of 2014, the NSP team set off to Truth or Consequences, New Mexico to make their space beer a reality. Partnering up with professional rocketeer team UP Aerospace, and takng with them everything they had learned from their first foray into space travel – The NSP team was in high spirits that this was going to be the day.
Unfortunately… Mother nature had other plans, as strong thunderstorms and wind gusts would push back Launch day 1 more week. Undeterred from this minor setback, the team set out to SpacePort America in New Mexico to try once more.
After traveling 77 miles above Earth’s atmosphere and spending nearly 4 minutes in the weightless vacuum of space, the rocket returned once more to earths atmosphere. The team wasn’t taking any more chances this time on recovering their precious cargo. With the help of a US Army helicopter to aide in the NSP’s search and rescue mission, they were able to quickly recover their precious space yeast!
After 2 years and 2 rocket launches – It would seem that Ninkasi Brewery would finally be able to make their space beer a reality. But there was still one question left unanswered – did the yeast survive the trip?
After several excruciating days waiting for test results to come back from their labs – The Ninkasi space yeast was determined to be healthy, viable and ready for brewing!
The result of all the NSP teams hard work?
A 10% Imperial Stout named ground control, featuring local Oregon grown hazelnuts, star anise and cocoa nibs. The beer hit shelves on April 13, 2015 and is available in limited quantities to the pacific northwest and a few small provinces in Canada.
Did I mention that these guys seem to know a thing or two about product promotion? They even went so far as to commission a song to commemorate the world’s first “space beer”!
Well played Ninkasi Brewery….well played.
**Fun Fact: Ninkasi is the ancient Sumerian goddess of beer!