UF researcher combines butterflies and beer

A beer a day keeps the declines of butterflies away.

University of Florida scientist and Florida Museum of Natural History curator Jaret Daniels is raising money with the sale of a new beer to help monarch butterflies. If all goes according to plan, the beer, Reign Imperial Stout, will become available to customers September 2022.

“Over the last 30 years, the population of monarch butterflies has declined about 80 percent,” Daniels said. “The goal of the program is to raise enough awareness so we can start rebuilding the butterflies’ habitats.”

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Daniels said 75 percent of the proceeds will go to the museum, while the other 25 percent will go toward planting 1 million milkweed plants, a key item in the butterfly diet.

The nonprofit Xerces Society Invertebrate Conservation will lead the restoration efforts. The society works to protect endangered insects through education and research.

“Dr. Daniels brought this idea up to me when I was working both in his lab and at Gainesville’s First Magnitude Brewing,” said Simon McClung, director of sales operations at First Magnitude. “Eventually, we debuted our first beer—Schaus’ Stout—at our first release event September 2016.”

Daniels and First Magnitude have created and sold 10 customs beers. Each can features a unique label with information on a different type of butterfly.

UF assistant professor Jaret Daniels holds a tiny butterfly

Their Frosted Elfin beer contains yeast swabbed from a butterfly. Daniels said this was the first and only time a beer has ever been made using butterfly yeast.

“Beer is a great vehicle for fundraising because it brings people together,” McClung said. “It gets them talking.”

First Magnitude also partnered with the museum to release beer cans with augmented reality. Daniels said this is one of the first times this has been done.

Augmented reality is an interactive 3-D experience that uses a view of the real world with computer elements. It gives users the sense of being in a video game.

Daniels said customers were able to download a free app that projected an animated Miami blue butterfly. The app also contained information on the conservation efforts to help the butterfly.

“We really try to push the envelope with each beer,” Daniels said.

Breweries can sign up to be a part of the program online.

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