Are Beer Mugs Next?
Diners at KFC restaurants throughout Britain
are able to have their coffee — and eat the
cup, too. KFC is using an edible cup made
from a wafer coated in sugar paper and lined
with a heat-resistant white chocolate.The new
cup addresses many trends in business
today, including consumer concerns about
the environmental impact of packaging, as
well as their desire for simplicity.
Other companies have been offering similar
items. Lavazza, the Italian coffee brand, had
edible cookie cups, while Coolhaus sells its
ice cream sandwiches in potato starch
wrappers made from vegetables. In New York,
Ansel Bakery offers a chocolate-chip shot,
with organic milk poured into a cookie cup.
The chocolate lining will melt and soften the
crisp wafer in the same way that a
biscotti softens when dipped in coffee. The
cups have been dosed with aromas,
including “Coconut Sun Cream,” “Freshly Cut
Grass” and “Wild Flowers
Ninkasi Brewing Company, based in Eugene, OR, founded the Ninkasi Space Program
(NSP) in 2014 in an effort to push the (outer) limits of brewing. The goal? To send yeast to
space, recover it, and use it to brew some delicious beer.
This April 13th, Ninkasi will release the fruits of NSP’s labor. Ground Control is an Imperial
Stout, brewed with Oregon hazelnuts, star anise, and cocoa nibs, plus Apollo, Bravo,
and Comet hops. And, yes, space yeast.
Like any mission to space, the journey to the final frontier was not without its hiccups.
Ninkasi’s first attempt, Mission One, launched from Black Rock desert in Nevada in
July 2014, but after the payload hit the ground nine miles from its intended landing site,
the yeast sat undiscovered for 27 days.
Notoriously fickle, yeast can only survive within a fairly narrow temperature range. As you
might have imagined, 27 days in the Nevada desert fell outside those bounds. Mission
One’s sacrifice was not in vain, though. NSP regrouped and re-launched in October 2014,
this time with the help of UP Aerospace–a Denver-based company dealing in private
spaceflight–in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico. The rocket, SpaceLoft-9, soared to
408,035ft (77.3 miles) above Earth with six vials of yeast onboard.
Four minutes of weightlessness in the exosphere later, the yeast coasted back to the
ground, where it was recovered by the NSP team and transported back to Oregon,
tested, and deemed viable for brewing. And so, Ground Control was born
Of course if you want to endure something beyond the rigors of outer space take a
listen to the great (and we mean it) William Shatner performing Major Tom.
the crossroads of the beer world
Craft in Japan
Compared to America’s craft beer scene,
Japan’s is still a teenager. As of early 2015
Japan was home to 2215 craft breweries; America
has more than 2,800. Japan didn’t deregulate its
beer industry until 1994, when it passed a law
massively lowering the annual output needed to
obtain a brewing license from 2,000,000 liters to
60,000 liters (approximately 511 barrels).
Hundreds of breweries opened in the years
following deregulation, but inconsistent quality led
many to shutter in the early 2000s, according to
data provided by Japan’s Craft Beer Association.
Finally, the market has stabilized. New brewers
are better trained and are producing beer that is
both delicious and distinctly Japanese. They have
a careful watch on what American and European
brewers are doing, too, with some Japanese
brewers training here in the States. There are
more women in craft beer in Japan, unusual in a
semi-male-dominated society. Compared to most
nations Japan has a higher percentage of female
brewers. The Minoh brewer alone has over a
dozen [female brewers.