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Brewing with botanicals makes ‘Pharmabees beer’

30 November 2017

Pharmabees beer launch

A new beer which combines brewing knowhow with University expertise is being launched at the BBC Good Food Show in Birmingham today.

Mêl – which means ‘honey’ in Welsh – is the creation of Bridgend’s Bang-On Brewery and scientists at Cardiff University’s School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences.

Bang-On Brewer founder, Neil Randle, and Professor Les Baillie have teamed up to produce a bottled beer using honey from the School’s Pharmabees project, which has placed hives across Cardiff in a quest to find a therapeutic Welsh honey to rival New Zealand’s famous Manuka variety.

Neil Randle said: "I was introduced to Les by a mutual friend, Robyn Davies, from the South East Wales Academic Health Science Partnership. After a chat about projects, Les and I realised we could join forces to make a brew which combines the natural goodness of honey with scientifically identified botanicals.

"Les and his team have been heavily involved in working towards producing a super honey that combines science with nature. They’ve used scientific methods to identify which flora provide the best natural botanicals that can have a positive effect when consumed. In addition, 50 varieties of hops have also been tested to assess the antibacterial activity against human pathogens."

See how we are helping to create a bee-friendly city.

Once the secret ingredients were established, Bang-On Brewery’s Craig Jackson formulated a recipe to ensure the brew had the right taste and balance.

Craig added: "We are not making health claims about the beer. It’s simply about producing a great taste, but we hope the collaborative project may well evolve into something that could change the culture of how beer is consumed in the longer term."

The first batch of Bang-On Mêl will be launched at the BBC’s four-day Good Food Show (30 November—3 December) at the National Exhibition Centre before going on general sale. A share of the profits will go towards supporting pollinator and wellbeing projects across Wales.

The combination of academic expertise and brewing knowhow has a longer term goal for Professor Baillie: "This is our first product, and it’s very much a stepping stone on our way to develop an alcohol-free fermented adult drink, which we think will have mass market appeal..."

"It also has the benefit of supporting the social enterprise we have set up to support pollinators, biodiversity and Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) training across the city."

Professor Les Baillie Professor of Microbiology

The label for the new 4% ABV beer describes the personification of Mêl as: ‘A Pharmabee who is concerned about the world in which we live and is passionate about keeping that way for future generations.’

Cardiff University’s Pharmabees project is also working to identify plant-derived drugs which could be used to treat antibiotic resistant hospital pathogens.

Numerous species of bacteria have become resistant to antibiotics over the past few decades, so there is an increasing need to prevent and control the emergence and spread of antimicrobial-resistance in hospitals.

The Pharmabees bee-friendly campus project has received national recognition and scooped the Sustainability award at the Guardian University Awards 2017

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