Jonathan beer Jackie O's

Jackie O’s Brewery bartender Jonathan Holmberg hands this reporter a glass of 1566, a beer brewed by Jackie O’s with yeast captured and brought back to life by an Ecuadorian professor from a 16th century monastery. Photo by Conor Morris.

Jackie O’s Brewery in Athens last week revealed a unique beer brewed using yeast collected and reanimated from brewing barrels at an Ecuadorian monastery in collaboration with an Ohio University class and a visiting professor from a university in Quito, Ecuador. This particular yeast was first used in 1566.

The class involved with the project – CAS 4413, called the “Art of Craft Brewing” – was led by Jackie O’s owner and OU assistant professor Art Oestrike. The class joined Oestrike in celebrating the release of the beer during a party they planned at Jackie O’s on Halloween night last Thursday. The students (who must be 21 or older) came from a mix of disciplines, from nutrition to biology to nutrition to marketing.

They spent weeks planning with Oestrike, Jackie O’s staff and Javier Carvajal, a professor of biochemistry at Pontificia Universidad Católica del Ecuador, to work on the concept behind the beer, as well as its marketing and promotion.

This reporter visited the class last week, and stopped by the party last Thursday to try the beer.

Carvajal, who owns his own start-up brewery in Quito, harvested the yeast himself in 2011 from old barrels at the monastery in Quito, which was started by a Franciscan monk from the Flemish region of Belgium in 1566. Carvajal then reanimated the yeast – essentially bringing it back to life – to be used in beers he’s brewed. The new beer at Jackie O’s – called 1566 – uses a tweaked version of a recipe created by Carvajal, which he said came from recipe materials he found at the old monastery. (Prior to wheat and barley being brought to South America, most beer was made from corn, Carvajal explained.)

“That’s how this beer came to be,” he said during the party Thursday. “It’s part of corn, part of wheat, part of barley, and also some ingredients from the old Flanders sugar candy. Everything’s there; it’s a mixed-blood beer.”

Carvajal declined to name any beer style that the beer is analogous to, but it tasted somewhat like a cross between a stout and a porter, with notes of coffee, chocolate and fruit.

CAS 4413 student Monica Zeleny, an industrial organizational psychology major, noted that despite the variety of disciplines, Oestrike made the class relevant to all of their majors. When asked, some of the students in the class said it made them interested in pursuing careers in craft brewing.

Oestrike noted that the class and the beer project are a way to foster relations with the university in Quito. Some of the proceeds from the sale of the beer also will help fund a scholarship to bring students at that university to OU. It’s was still on tap as of Wednesday.

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