Two students at West Lafayette, Ind.-based Purdue University have developed beer spice, a non-alcoholic, freeze-dried beer product intended as an ingredient for foods.

Michelle Kelly and Luke Meyers developed the spice as their senior research project for the class Agricultural and Biological Engineering 556: “Food Plant Design and Economics.”

“It could be used for dips, sauces, in breads or batters, or sprinkled on popcorn or potato chips,” said Kelly.

“The idea started as kind of a joke, but then [the course tutor] Professor Martin Okos said he liked the concept because it was original,” Kelly says. “As we researched it we were surprised to find out that no one had developed it before.”

The students have created freeze-dried versions of both light and dark beers. The lager version is a cream color and the dark beer powder is a darker shade of brown. They devised a multistep process to freeze-dry the beer, first removing part of the moisture from the beer in a process similar to that used to create frozen orange juice concentrate. Then they used a food freeze dryer to get the crystalline powder.

“It was surprising how close the flavour is to that of real beer,” Okos says.