This article on fruit flies and beer is really worth a read—in a nutshell, according to the research referred to in the article, the reason why those little flying bastards are so attracted to your pint is symbiosis; and it's a relationship that goes way, way back— and arrives right when Ron Pattinson has been posting a very interesting series on the history of Lambic.
It's a shame, however, that the author, Annie Sneed, isn't someone more knowledgeable about beer, or at least, with a broader view on the topic. If she was, I doubt that after speaking about a research carried out by the University of Leuven and the Flanders Institute for Biotechnology in Belgium, she would've said that ”there’s a new trend among beer-makers called ‘wild fermentation’”. And she might have also been prompted to the ask those questions that are screaming to be asked, especially after learning that:
Because yeast can’t move around on their own, (…) they probably developed this strategy as a way to escape nutrient-poor environments and migrate to nutrient-rich places that fruit flies frequent, like ripe fruit or rotting trash.The questions, then, are: Does this mean that take part in the the spontaneous fermentation are not in the air after all? Do fruit flies play a role in the production of Lambic, or have they in the past? Could it be that we owe the very existence of beer to them?
Maybe someone can answer them, maybe not. Either way, this shows how much is there left to know about our favourite booze.
PS: It is by no means my intention to criticise Ms Sneed, nor the magazine, as she's isn't posing as an expert on the topic, and, besides, because it does open the door to someone who is an expert to dig a big deeper.