BeerDeCoded is a quest to decode the molecular composition from beers collected all over the world.
The scientific results of the project were published in a peer-reviewed journal article in October 2017. This article is entitled "BeerDeCoded: the open beer metagenome project" and is available open access on the F1000 research website.
At the beginning, DNA was the only focus. We would like to expand to other molecular analyses.
BeerDeCoded is a research project to draw a genetic map of beers. The public contributes to every step of this project: from securing funding to doing the experiment, from testing (and tasting) the samples to publishing the results. BeerDeCoded is doing-research-together, on the streets, in the bars and in an open laboratory.
The main goals are the following:
- To expand public understanding of molecular technologies (i.e. DNA sequencing) and their connection to culture.
- To help non-scientist to study and analyse their beer samples at molecular level.
- To motivate citizen scientists to generate an open access molecular dataset.
- To understand the brewing process better.
Beer is a living beverage, and therefore it contains DNA. The DNA comes from its ingredients (hops, grains, yeast) and also from the microbes that were present on the ingredients and in the brewing environment. There are 1,000+ yeast varieties used for brewing and 200+ hops species, each one bearing a different DNA. Artisanal beer (craft beer) is trendy: microbreweries produce a large variety of beers, each one with its unique recipe and taste. It seems impossible to taste them all, so we are making a "tree of beers" based on their biochemical composition.
We are working on beer DNA extractions, sequencing and bioinformatics.
- All the tasks are in this Trello: https://trello.com/b/NyG1Z7A7/beerdecoded-execution
- Our last update (February 14th, 2017) for our Kickstarter backers: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/489252126/beerdecoded-the-1000-beer-genomes/posts/1807332
Want to help us? Drop us a note or join an #OpenHackuarium.
We run BeerDeCoded workshops at Hackuarium or at public events. We can load a miniaturized laboratory on a cargo-bike and bring molecular analyses everywhere.
If you want BeerDeCoded at your event, please contact email@example.com
- Feb 11, 2017. Open Food Hackdays at EPFL https://hack.opendata.ch/project/71
- Mar 24, 2016. Decoding Slovenian beers at Ljubljana c/o Biotehna http://www.meetup.com/BioTehna/events/228877465/
- Mar 16, 2016. EPFL STIL16: Innovation and Technology exhibition. http://www.salon-stil.ch/index.php
- Mar 08, 2016 Entre bière, hackers et ADN le projet BeerDeCoded participe au café scientifique du Collège Rousseau (Genève).
- Feb 19, 2016. Swissnex San Francisco. A hands on night on beer microbiology, outreach and entrepreneurship open to Swiss alumni. www.swissnexsanfrancisco.org/event/beerdecoded/
- Nov 28, 2015 A private party for our Kickstarter backers at Hackuarium
- July 18, 2015 First test of the DNA Workchoppe at Hackuarium
- Oct 30, 2015 LIFT Basel, "the future of food". Breakthrough and Workshop "Give them beers people talk about genomics
- Oct 22, 2015 EXPO15 Milan, Swiss Pavillon
- Sep 24, 2015 ScienceComm15, Solothurn
- NCCR Retreat in Chemical Biology
- GEW Geneva
How do we finance the project?
At LIFT15 conference in Geneva, we discussed the project during a science crowdfunding workshop.
We then joined the first Science x Kickstarter hackathon in New York City (Feb 28, 2015) to draft a crowdfunding campaign for a pilot experiment.
We have been successfully funded in 20 days in June 2015.
After that, we attracted some sponsorship from local partners including Amstein SA, Swissnex San Francisco, Commune de Genève, ABO Valais.
How did we NOT finance the project?
We have our collection of refusals. We are proud of some applications and we list them here because they could be useful to other projects.
- Science Outreach, Application to SNF Agora Fund, August 2015. https://docs.google.com/document/d/1xyid0vtE-mN6yEsQSlc9gNBAHjxdyplAlvuwkwPATT8/edit?usp=sharing
- Business Model, Application to Illumina Accelerator, December 2015. Our kickstarter backers contributed to the application. https://docs.google.com/document/d/1y1QaitvAvTdMeRqt8gJDCp34fi-emPgQ-HG42aFEyAo/edit?usp=sharing
We only measured our outreach capacity during the Kickstarter campaign.
During the Kickstarter campaign that run for the whole month of June 2015, there were 9,979 views (1,760 from Switzerland) on the kickstarter page. The related 2-min video containing simple technical aspects on beer DNA metagenomics was played 4,424 times (38% of plays completed). More than 2000 people interacted with us on social media, 723 people engaged in a discussion about the genetics of beer components, and 199 people devoted an average time of 5:21 min to answer 5 questions related to beer, DNA and decision making. The questions were “Tell me some beers you like”, “Why do you like these beers?”, “Where do you think taste comes from?”, “On the beer menu there are 20 beers you do not know, how do you choose?”, and “Imagine how the DNA that beers contain could help you make this choice”. During this pilot campaign, 123 people (including 6 breweries, 1 Swiss beer importer and 1 beer tasting association) financially contributed to the project, more than 20 people subscribed to a laboratory event to run a beer DNA analysis together and 10 joined the lab for a first full-day workshop in July 2015. BeerDeCoded was mentioned by 50+ magazines and blogs, including 3 Swiss daily newspapers (Le Temps, La Tribune de Genève, 24 Heures) and 2 TV programs on the Swiss national channel RTS (A bon entendeur, Le journal).
On the 723 in-person conversations, we took notes on the first 107 conversations. When it comes to beer and DNA: 29 correctly understood it was a beer classification problem, 25 replied off-target or changed topic, 21 imagined an application to suggest beers (sommelier), 13 thought this was going to generate new beer recipes, 8 posed a strong objection, implying that this was not possible, 4 thought I was talking about GMO, 4 wondered about legal issues, 3 - including one journalist - thought I was talking about human DNA. In some conversations, people showed an intuition for important research topics, like genotype-environment interaction, feature selection, false discovery rate etc.., but this is more difficult to measure and probably less relevant. These conversations show that it is possible to exchange views and perspectives on genetic testing using beer DNA as an example.
Today BeerDeCoded runs on a voluntary basis. We pay reagents and services. We have funding for sequencing 96 beers. Rough project costs:
- 500 CHF - Beer collection
- 1000 CHF - DNA purification (we extract DNA out of the beer)
- 5500 CHF - DNA amplification and multiplexing (we amplify the DNA, we label it with a ID code and we pool the labeled samples inside a sequencer)
- 3000 CHF - DNA sequencing.
Other steps (manpower, bioinformatic analyses, data visualisation and communication) are done on a voluntary basis.
Gianpaolo Rando, Ph.D. Director
Jonathan Sobel, M.Sc. Bioinformatics
Nicolas Rotman, Ph.D. Molecular biology
Marco Maggiotti Software Engineer
Vanessa Lorenzo Interaction design
Alex Hantson, B.Sc. Digital marketing
Luc Henry, Ph.D. Science outreach
Gabrielle Salanon Brewing, molecular enology
Brij Sahi, MBA Business development