A freshly poured pint of Guinness is one of the most iconic images that people around the world associate with Ireland. There is nothing more Irish than Guinness right?
Well maybe there is, as researchers have revealed that the yeast that goes into making the famous Irish stout could actually have originated in Asia.
Experts at Trinity College Dublin and the University of Dublin have teamed up to construct a comprehensive family tree of the different strands of yeast that are used in brewing and cooking in Ireland today.
What they have found is that the strand of yeast that goes into Guinness shares DNA with an Indian yeast strain that is used to make their own national drink, Toddy.
The Guinness yeast is also surprisingly related to the yeast that is used to make lager, a long-time rival beer of stout.
Professor Ursula Bond, who is associate professor in microbiology at Trinity College, explained: “The research has uncovered new links between stout, ale and lager yeasts.
“The shared links joining stout, lager and Toddy yeasts also hinted at a colonial exchange of yeast strains between India and these islands sometime in the past.
“Two separate fusion events happened about 500 years ago and produced the two yeast groups in common use today. One of the parents of one of the fusions was found in 2011 – not in Europe as one might imagine but in two locations, Patagonia and China.
“At some time it must have found its way to Europe by the exploration of the New World or along the Silk Road from China.”
The team are now determined to find the original sources of the other parent yeast stains that created the two fusions.
Of course this latest evidence is unlikely to do anything to damage the popularity or brand of Guinness. It will still be enjoyed by Irish locals and tourists alike throughout pubs across the country.
Read about the history of the famous drink.