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A novel way to use acid whey

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The production of Greek yogurt creates a lot of acid whey, which has little value. But what if you could turn it into a drinkable alcohol and solve a waste issue?

Cork, Ireland

Ithaca, N.Y. – Does the thought of consuming dairy waste that has been turned into a “flavourful drink with an alcoholic kick” tempt you?

Put this way it might not.

But a professor in the Department of Food Science at Cornell University feels strongly that if research can turn acid whey into something palatable, it could open up new opportunities.

An article on the university’s website (“Alcohol from dairy waste may be headed to a tap near you,” by Matt Hayes on March 21, 2018) explains that “the production of Greek yogurt creates acid whey, a leftover liquid with very little protein and few profitable uses.”


Professor Sam Alcaine wants to change that.

The article adds that the acid whey is creating disposal issues for New York State’s Greek yogurt industry.

In the article Alcaine says craft beer and spirits is a booming sector “but dairy doesn’t play in that space at all. If we could convert whey into something that people want to drink, it opens an entirely new economic arena for entrepreneurs and brewers to explore and innovate with.”


The university says turning dairy into a drinkable alcohol “is no simple task.”

For one thing there’s the lactose, “a sugar in dairy that cannot be broken down and converted into alcohol by traditional brewer’s yeast.”

So Alcaine is working on finding a solution, which include combining various strains of bacteria and yeast or using barley.

His work so far has “already shown results: a low-alcohol beer – about 2.7 per cent alcohol by volume – with a sour and salty flavour comparable to German-style gose (pronounced GOZ-ah) beer and other concoctions similar to pulque, a traditional central Mexican drink made from agave.”

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