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Asia Pacific: Singapore researchers create probiotic beer

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Researchers from the National University of Singapore (NUS) have created sour beer that incorporates the probiotic strain Lactobacillus paracasei L26.

The strain was first isolated from human intestines and has the ability to neutralise toxins and viruses, as well as regulate the immune system.

The idea of producing a probiotic beer was first mooted by Chan Mei Zhi Alcine, a fourth-year student from the Food Science and Technology Programme under the NUS Faculty of Science, who consumes dairy-based probiotic beverages daily.

“While good bacteria are often present in food that have been fermented, there are currently no beers in the market that contain probiotics,” said Chan.

“Developing sufficient counts of live probiotics in beer is a challenging feat as beers contain hop acids that prevent the growth and survival of probiotics.”

Studies have shown that consuming food and beverages with live counts of probiotics are more effective in delivering health effects than eating those with inactive probiotics.

Currently, the recommendation by the International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics is to have a minimum of 1 billion probiotics per serving in order to attain the maximum health benefits.

Under the supervision of Associate Professor Liu Shao Quan from the NUS Food Science and Technology Programme, Chan took about nine months to come up with an ideal recipe that achieves the optimal count of live probiotics in the beer.

By propagating the probiotic and yeast in pure cultures, and modifying conventional brewing and fermentation processes, she managed to increase and maintain the live counts of the strain of probiotic.

“For this beer, we used a lactic acid bacterium as a probiotic micro-organism,” said Chan.
“It will utilise sugars present in the wort to produce sour-tasting lactic acid, resulting in a beer with sharp and tart flavours.”

“The final product, which takes around a month to brew, has an alcohol content of about 3.5%.”
The NUS research team has filed a patent to protect the recipe for brewing the probiotic sour beer.

Looking ahead, Assoc Prof Liu and Miss Chan are keen to collaborate with industry partners to introduce the beer to consumers.