#BehindtheNumbers: Long-term U of G–industry collaboration powers Ontario craft brewing innovations

Posted on Monday, February 22nd, 2021

Person in a lab, wearing a lab coat, using a small screen. She has a table of samples in front of her. The accompanying text reads Ontario Agri-Food Innovation Alliance 2019-20 Annual Report. "322 research collaborators: The Alliance fosters collaboration, investment and engagement for the benefit of Ontario." Read the stories #BehindtheNumbers at uoguelph.ca/alliance.

A collaboration between U of G's Dr. George van der Merwe, professor in the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, and Escarpment Laboratories, supplier of liquid yeast cultures for Ontario’s $1.4-billion craft beer industry, has led to new products, processes and technologies that will benefit the Ontario agri-food sector.

Several Escarpment Laboratories innovations have been made possible through Gryphon’s LAAIR (Leading to the Accelerated Adoption of Innovative Research) program funding and a strong partnership with van der Merwe.

This partnership results in local economic growth, new jobs and opportunities for U of G graduates, and a better understanding of yeast, “helping the brewers that we work with to make better beer, reduce their losses and create a lot of value for the industry in Ontario and the rest of Canada,” says Richard Preiss, co-founder of Escarpment Laboratories.

Creating unique products

To stay competitive internationally, the craft beer sector must develop and offer unique, hard-to-duplicate products. This partnership will increase the profitability of several components in the craft brewing value chain.

Glass of craft beer accompanied by benefits of this collaboration

  • Creating a competitive advantage for Ontario craft beer through the use of novel regional yeast strains
  • Expanding sour beer production in Ontario
  • Breeding stress-tolerant beer yeast strains for enhanced fermentation capacity and product consistency

#BehindtheNumbers is a series of stories from the Ontario Agri-Food Innovation Alliance 2019-20 Annual Report, Growing Ontario Solutions, that showcases how the Alliance drives impact in Ontario.

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