Ninkasi blasts yeast into space, makes beer after re-entry

EUGENE, Ore. - It's one small step for Eugene, one giant leap for craft beer.

Last October, Ninkasi Brewing Company and Up Aerospace Incorporated launched six vials of yeast 77 miles above the Earth.

Why? Science!

"Most people when they think of space beer they're envisioning that they drink the beer and turn into an alien or something like that," said Jamie Floyd from Ninkasi, "but we as scientists are more occupied with the idea of preserving beer at its highest quality."

The goal? That someday visitors to space might be able to enjoy views like these while enjoying open a cold beer.

This mission was actually the second try.

The first mission didn't quite work out after the rocket returned to Earth and got lost for 27 days in the desert, an ordeal for yeast, beast or man.

After a more successful re-entry on the second mission, Ninkasi brewed about 500 kegs worth of "Ground Control" beer using the extraterrestrial yeast.

"It's 10 percent alcohol, so it's pretty strong and dark like space," Floyd said.

The imperial stout lands at specialty retailers for a limited time starting in mid-April.

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