The brewers believe this is the first time wild yeast has been collected from a rare butterfly.

By Mike Pomranz
May 16, 2019
Geena Hill/Florida Museum

It’s not every day I get my beer news from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. It’s also not every day a beer is launched to raise money for butterfly conservation that is also brewed with yeast from those butterflies. But Frosted Elfin New England-Style Session Pale Ale — a collaboration between Florida’s First Magnitude Brewing and the Florida Museum of Natural History — apparently isn’t your everyday beer.

Jeff Gage/Florida Museum

This easy-drinking hazy pale is named after the frosted elfin — a type of small, brown butterfly that is native to the region but has seen its numbers decline due to habitat loss. Clearly, the name alone would raise awareness of the species, but museum staff went the extra mile — netting and swabbing frosted elfin butterflies found in the Apalachicola National Forest to collect wild yeast which was then cultured and evaluated for use in the brewing process. “You just need to find the one with the right smell and taste,” Arthur Rudolph, quality manager at First Magnitude, told the Florida Museum. “Yeast wants to attract pollinators and they are attracted to the aroma of flowers, so the yeast produces similar aromatic compounds.” They believe this is the first time wild yeast has been collected from a rare butterfly.

Jeff Gage/Florida Museum

The butterfly yeast-enhanced Frosted Elfin New England-Style Session Pale Ale is launching as part of a fundraiser tomorrow at the First Magnitude taproom in Gainesville followed by a second event at The Brass Tap in Tallahassee on May 25. A portion of the beer’s sales and all the proceeds from both events will go to support conservation efforts in Florida. But Jaret Daniels, an Associate Professor of Entomology at the University of Florida as well as the director of the McGuire Center for Lepidoptera and Biodiversity at the Florida Museum of Natural History, explained that the beer is about more than money. “The idea was to find a way to engage a different demographic in conservation,” he said in a story published by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Northeast Region.

First Magnitude

This new brew is actually the seventh butterfly-themed beer from First Magnitude and the Florida Museum since 2015, raising over $15,000 in all. But apparently, this frosted elfin brew is special because it’s the first time they’ve specifically featured a North Florida butterfly and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working to assess whether the frosted elfin should require federal protection. “People want to help and this is a fun way to make a difference, enjoy a cold beer and protect a butterfly,” said Daniels.

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