Brewing Vegemite beer for science

15 Aug 2016
Dr Ben Schulz investigated claims that Vegemite can be used to brew beer.

Is Vegemite more than a spread? Or can it be used to brew beer? University of Queensland researchers have put the theory to the test.

School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences researchers investigated claims that Vegemite and a similar product, Marmite, have been used to brew a cheap form of beer.

Vegemite and Marmite are iconic Australian, New Zealand and UK products made from brewer’s yeast extract, and popular as spreads on bread or toast, and as ingredients in other foods.

Dr Ben Schulz, who co-wrote the paper with Science Honours student Edward Kerr, is a yeast researcher who also investigates the biochemistry of beer manufacture.

He said it had been recently reported that Vegemite was being used as a yeast source for home brewing in Indigenous Australian communities where alcohol was banned.

“Vegemite is also banned in prisons in Victoria, Australia, due to its reported use in home brew alcohol production,” he said.

“As the Vegemite production process would be expected to effectively sterilise the spread, it was unclear how the addition of Vegemite would benefit alcohol production.”

The researchers brewed Vegemite beer to understand the process, creating a product that looked like ginger beer, was safe to drink, but was bland with a Vegemite after-taste.