Two research teams are mixing work and pleasure to assemble the first-ever "genetic family tree" of the yeasts used to make beer, and they're pulling in data from over 2,000 brews. The New York Times recently visited yeast distributor White Labs, which is working alongside a genetics laboratory to complete the research. Thus far, the Times reports, they've successfully sequenced the DNA for over 240 strains of brewing yeasts — including samples from mainstays like Sam Adams and Sierra Nevada. The researchers hope to come away with a better understanding of how yeasts have influenced taste in beer through the years. They can also analyze the similarity between yeasts from different breweries. But the prospect of coming up with the "perfect" brew is even more tantalizing. As the Times says:
By knowing which genes to track, and using computers and robotics to speed the process, a researcher could mate two different yeast strains thousands of times until, by chance, they produced an offspring with the perfect combination of genetic characteristics.