Scientists say they’ve found a way to make beer tastier using genetic engineering.

But they’re not entirely sure why it works.

According to their new paper, published this week in journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology, beer used to taste a lot better than it does now. 

In the 1970s changes to production methods made beer a lot easier to make – and importantly, in much larger quantities – but “produced inferior quality beer, due to insufficient flavour production”.

Technology’s come a long way since then, particularly in genetics. So, researchers at Katholieke Universiteit in Belgium – where they’re serious about beer – decided to see if they could find a gene for the ‘banana’ flavour “because it is one of the most important flavours present in beer” apparently, “as well as in other alcoholic drinks”. 

To our surprise, we identified a single mutation in the MDS3 gene, which codes for a regulator apparently involved in production of isoamyl acetate, the source of the banana-like flavour that was responsible for most of the pressure tolerance in this specific yeast strain,” said Johan Thevelein, emeritus professor of molecular cell biology.

Using CRISPR/Cas9, a gene-editing technology, they put the mutation into other brewing strains – improving their flavour by making them more resistant to the carbon dioxide build-ups in modern beer manufacturing.

“The mutation is the first insight into understanding the mechanism by which high carbon dioxide pressure may compromise beer flavour production,” said Thevelein.

“How it does that is not clear.”

If you’re sober and want to fill your brain with the science behind it, check out the full paper here. You might need a drink afterwards, though.