An ale that rewards drinkers with a healthy gut may sound like an idea devised during a night of heavy boozing but Kriza Calumba a food and science technology instructor from Davao, known as the ‘durian capital’ of the Philippines dit it. “We already know how good probiotics are for the body but food or drinks that have them are usually dairy-based,” said Calumba, who works at the University of the Philippines-Mindanao. “So I thought, why not have a beer that has probiotics? It can be another way for those who may be lactose-intolerant … and it can be a healthier option for those who want to enjoy their beer.” “I learned that the rind of durian has a property that helps preserve the bacteria even in the presence of alcohol,” she said. “I don’t even eat durian but I know that our province has a lot of durian by-products. This way, by incorporating my study with durian, there may be a future economic use for the tonnes of durian rinds our province produces.
Calumba researched the possibility of probiotic beer with durian to preserve the probiotic micro-organism lactobacillus for her postgraduate thesis after traveling in 2017 to the US to pursue a Master’s degree in food science at Louisiana State University (LSU) on a prestigious Fulbright scholarship. When Calumba arrived at LSU, the food science department was already researching products that could support probiotics to deliver benefits including treatment and prevention of gut problems and skin infections. But the possibility of using an alcoholic drink – containing ethanol, which kills bacteria – was uncharted territory. Today Calumba has applied for funding from the University of the Philippines-Mindanao and is waiting for a decision.