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Whether you’re catching a whiff of banana from a tall glass of lager or enjoying the subtle floral aromas in your favorite IPA, you have yeast to thank for it.
Yeast imbues beer with aromatic molecules that account for a great deal of its final flavor; almost all wild yeasts create these pleasant smells and tastes as they eat.
Yet even though we know yeast is the reason beer tastes so good, we don't know exactly why it does it.
But in a 2013 study, a team of scientists in Belgium has showed why these tiny microbes make the flavors we savor. In a paper in the journal Cell, the scientists detail the results of four experiments on yeast.
It turns out that for yeast, producing these delicious aromatic molecules is a bit like hailing a taxi. The smell lures in wandering flies, to which yeasts hitch a ride so they can disperse throughout nature. So we have trivial fruit flies to thank for the subtle aromas in our beer. Wow.