Australia.- Scientists from USC are hoping a beer brewed with “sea lettuce” from Moreton Bay will drive new interest in seaweed as a nutritious, tasty and locally-grown resource.
University of the Sunshine Coast Associate Professor of Aquaculture Dr Nick Paul has partnered with Newstead Brewing Co. in Brisbane to create what they believe is the first beer to feature Australian-farmed seaweed.
“Seaweed is a rapidly-growing resource, so we grew enough for this project in just one week,” Dr Paul said.
“The seaweed is fresh from USC’s research facility at Bribie Island, where pristine seawater supports the growth of premium-quality seaweed for food and beverage applications.”
He said Australian consumers had been slow to realise the many benefits of seaweed but now that interest was growing rapidly, it made sense to consider applications for Australia’s food, beverage, health and biopharmaceutical industries.
“Seaweed will actually filter out the very best minerals from the ocean so it has nutritious elements like potassium, magnesium and in this case zinc and iron,” he said.
“This particular sea lettuce, called ulva, has more iron than spinach. Other seaweeds have more potassium than bananas.”
Newstead brewers steeped 25 kilograms of the sea lettuce in cold water to extract the salt characteristics and flavours to add to the ‘gose’ style beer, which has origins dating back centuries to Goslar, Germany.
Brewer Dr Evan Goulden said gose was historically a lightly sour, wheat-driven beer, incorporating spices such as coriander, but defined by a salt character, the result of mineral-rich town water supplies.
“For this beer, we used desalinated water from Seqwater – which is completely salt-free – and instead we used seaweed to “resalinate” and reimagine the gose style with a natural briny character. We also left out the coriander because we wanted some of those marine volatiles and the spiciness from the seaweed to shine.”
Dr Goulden, a former marine microbiologist, says the partnership offered an opportunity to drive public conversation.
“To create that awareness, not only about seaweed but about responsible and sustainable farming of seaweed is a fantastic initiative,” he said.
Dr Paul said that with growing global concerns around food security, seaweed was a fast-growing, tasty and plentiful resource for feeding a growing population.
“At the moment in Australia, it’s not really embedded in our culture but we’re hoping to change that,” he said.
“We actually have thousands of species of seaweed off the coast of Australia and none of them are being used commercially, so there is this huge bounty of opportunity.
“Different seaweeds have different properties and it’s all about finding the right seaweed for the right application and working with the right partners to do that.”
Newstead Brewing Co. also opens its doors to USC science students so they can learn about the complex biotechnology behind the brewing process first-hand.
The beer is currently in stock throughout Queensland. Today it will be judged in the Royal Queensland Food and Wine Show, in the running for the title of Champion Beer Utilising Desalinated Water.