Posts Tagged ‘yeast’

Wild Patagonian Lager Yeast Ancestor Found!

Thursday, August 25th, 2011

courtesy Diego Libkind, Institute for Biodiversity and Environment Research, Bariloche, Argentina

In the gall sacks of Argentinian beech trees scientists have found a strain of wild yeast believed to have provided the “missing half” of the lager yeast genome. The international group of geneticists has been on a mission to identify the wild yeast that centuries ago combined with common ale yeast to form the clean-tasting cold-fermenting superhefe we know as Saccharomyces bayanus. To celebrate I am drinking a Magic Hat Hex Ourtoberfest, their märzen offering.

I have two thoughts on this discovery. First, of course the press release would come from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Second, I hope Budweiser puts this in a commercial and somehow relates it to their beechwood aging process.

1337 Brewing

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009

Researchers at Boston University deserve some sort of award. They have perfected control over flocculation, the process wherein the yeast cells clump together and fall to the bottom of the fermenter. By varying when (and if) the yeast flocculates you can exercise precise control over the flavor of the beer. If the yeast clumps together early and falls to the bottom it may leave a good amount of residual sugar in the beer and give it a sweet taste. On the other hand, if it fails to flocculate at all the beer will remain hazy and have a bready yeast flavor.

Anyway, James Collins led a team of synthetic biology researchers that have developed a kind of library of genetic “routines”. They have deconstructed much of the biological machinery that drives activation of genes. By using this library and lots of computer modeling they are able to assemble these component parts into what they call a gene network and have them behave in predictable ways.

So anyway, this team has used their library to produce a system quite analogous to an electric circuit that precisely controls the timing of yeast flocculation.

I wonder if anyone could get away with synthetic-yeast fermented beer?

Chunks of Stuff

Thursday, March 5th, 2009

One of the pleasures of the stats afforded by WordPress is the list of search terms that lead people to my blog. One caught my eye today: “chunks of stuff in my imported beer”. I was only hours ago having a conversation about chunks of stuff in beer. This is a topic that deserves some discussion. Hopefully the above searcher can find this information helpful.

Mans Best Friend

Man's Best Friend

Beer is life. That is, beer is living. But some brewing companies who-shall-not-be-named repeatedly assault the natural origins of beer. They feel they can turn beer into a commodity, treating their beer like soda pop, expecting to extend “shelf life”. They see this as a matter of economics: the less beer they lose to spoilage the better their margin. However, they forget the time-honored methods of long-term storage of beer – strength, hops, and live yeast. In an effort to make their beers more like water they brew them to low strength with few hops, and go on to filter them crystal clear. As if that wasn’t enough mistreatment, they run the beer through a pasteurizer that raises the temperature to destroy any semblance of life.

Don’t get me wrong, the pasteurizer is one of the greatest advancements to food safety, for milk and other foods that spoil. However, the entire reason humanity has brewed beer for millenia is that it is an ideal method of preservation. No known pathogen can survive in beer.

My Best Friend

My Best Friend

The ancients referred to yeast by the only name they felt gave the phenomenon justice: the single word ‘godisgood’. They appreciated, even with a primitive understanding of science, that the cake of sediment is the secret behind the drink. Strike that, is the drink. Without it we just have sweet water that pretty soon will look and smell foul (not to mention the taste).

With it we have majesty. We have the wonder of zymurgy. We have beer. Beer is yeast and yeast is beer. That little sediment at the bottom of craft-brewed beer is the proof that what you hold in your hand is truly natural: the product of a centuries-old collaboration between microorganisms and macroorganisms, between yeastkind and humankind. In the hands of a competent master, those little critters will work wonders.

So getting back to the question that was never specifically asked: it is a good sign if your import (or craft or microbrewed) beer has a layer of sediment on the bottom. In general, chunks of stuff are good. If you prefer, allow your bottles to sit for a few hours and carefully decant into the glass, and you can quite easily leave most of it out.

But in the end must you? There are several reasons I go ahead and drink it anyway. Yeast is incredibly healthful. Witness the prevalence of brewer’s yeast resold in health stores or as a supplement. It is rich in B vitamins (all but B12) and loaded up with protein and a variety of minerals. It adds a lot of body to beer and has a characteristic bready flavor.

That’s why many craft beer drinkers use this method: decant half the beer, drink it. Swirl the rest of the bottle, pour, and drink that. It’s the best of both worlds for a beverage defined by such things.

Eric Warner!

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2008

Flying Dog ‘Lead Dog’ Eric Warner, regarding the yeast swirl:
“Oh, shit man, let me have a try. Just a dose. Perfect.”

From this video.