The Ninkasi Brewing Company of Eugene, OR, is unusual (for craft beer makers) in having their own space program.
(Ground Control space beer program video)
The result was Ground Control: an imperial stout brewed with Oregon hazelnuts, star anise and cocoa nibs -- and fermented with some very well-traveled yeast.
"This is all about exploring the future of brewing," said Ninkasi co-founder Jamie Floyd in a statement. "While [amateur rocket] groups are working to push the boundaries of access to space, we are hoping that our missions will help propel the brewing industry forward."
In October, Ninkasi tried a second launch with the help of commercial spaceflight firm UP Aerospace. The rocket was sent 77.3 miles into space and floated above the atmosphere for more than four minutes before falling back to earth.
This time, the six vials of yeast were swiftly retrieved by a U.S. Army helicopter and transported back to Ninkasi's lab, where it was tested and brewed into the first beer made from yeast that traveled to space and back.
And of course, anything that gets launched into space comes with a hefty price tag. Ninkasi spent about $80,000 on the project.
SF fans (including me) have been a bit leery of microorganisms that have come back from space ever since The Andromeda Strain, the 1969 novel that seriously launched the career of Michael Crichton.