There are so many uses for beer besides drinking it that we lost track right around the time this ancient Austrian brewery turned old fermenting vats into beer-filled swimming pools. Though, enjoying a bock-soaked bath is nothing compared to what might result from a recent study out of the University of Bristol in the UK: Chemists have discovered how to make sustainable gas using beer as the primary ingredient.

Since fossil fuels are a finite resource and contribute to rising global carbon dioxide levels—and therefore climate change—scientists have been searching for sustainable alternatives to replace diesel and petrol, according to lead researcher Duncan Wass, Ph.D. Wass says there’s pretty much only one realistic, sustainable swap: ethanol. “It’s the first choice largely because it’s the thing that we can make,” he says. The problem is you need to burn a lot more ethanol than gasoline to travel the same distance–it’s more corrosive than gasoline and it mixes too easily with water. For these reasons, ethanol is only blended with standard gasoline up to about 10 percent in America, says Wass.

The ideal fuel alternative is butanol, which, like ethanol, can also be made by fermentation. Still, it’s a much more difficult process, and Wass says the technology to make it happen has been “very inefficient”– that is, until now. Scientists needed to figure out a way to mine butanol from ethanol fermentation broths instead of pure, dry ethanol, which requires more distillations and thus is more energy-intensive, he says.

After slumming away at a solution for six years, Wass and his team discovered a catalyst that can speed up the conversion of such broths into butanol: good ol’ beer. The logic is simple: “Alcoholic drinks are fermentation broths,” he says. “The only difference between an industrial fermentation broth for ethanol fuel and beer is the addition of hops to the latter. We could mix ethanol, water, and sugars in the lab, but why bother when you can buy it off a supermarket shelf?”

The reason why beer works–opposed to another alcoholic beverage like vodka or wine– is because a strong, 5 percent to 8 percent ABV beer is most similar to the elusive broth, says Wass. The catch: “It’s actually the most difficult alcoholic drink to use, because the more ethanol and less water, the better,” he says. “Vodka is far easier to use, but it’s already undergone a distillation to increase the ethanol content.”

So should you pour a few IPAs down your gas tank and hit the road? Not so fast. Wass says he doesn’t actually want to use beer on an industrial scale. “From a technological point of view, you could,” he says. “From an ethical point of view, the arguments for using food crops as fuel are complex.”

Besides, Wass and co. will need to do plenty more timely, costly research before anyone seriously considers the idea of using a beer-like product as fuel. “Using beer has been important in showing that our catalysts are robust with real ethanol sources,” he says, “but we need to go even further and show they’re robust on a much bigger scale. The cost of doing this is significant and we’re working with the industry to find a way forward.”