Brewer’s Yeast and Its Affect on Hops
I ran across an article recently that is well worth reading (for those of us who are brewing inclined). Posted on the Beer and Wine Journal, the article mentions the experimental work of Chris White from White Labs.
White Labs is one of the two largest yeast labs in the United States, the other being WYeast. These labs provide for the culturing needs of both hobbyists and professionals alike. Services like new yeast strains as well as cataloging house strains for professionals are a couple of the services they provide.
In recent experiments at White Labs it has been discovered that the yeast strain used to ferment the wort (prebeer) can have a detrimental effect on the finished IBUs (International Bittering Units). In simple terms this means that they yeast used can change how hoppy the finished beer will be.
The interesting thing about this is how this plays into brewing traditions. Yeast was discovered through the work of Jonas Salk and other scientist like him in the 1800s. Breweries tended to specialize in certain beer types most of the time. Yeast tends to take on a house character as it proliferates within a brewery. (bear with me I know this is like fact tornado). Now picture this, during this time without knowing how exactly the fermentation process was happening, old world brewers were creating the characteristics of the yeasts we know now.
Sure there have been changes through the years but that just shows even more how yeast evolves as it is used. One of the big findings from these experiments shows that yeasts that are typically used for less hoppy beers tend to reduce the overall bitterness of the beer as they ferment. On the opposite side of this resiny coin we find that the yeasts that are coming out of the new world (per the article the West Coast specifically) tend to be more conducive to hoppy beers.
I don’t know about you but I have always had certain yeasts that I prefer to use when I brew certain beers. Based on this data it could be interesting to switch things up a bit and see what happens when a different yeast strain is used with certain recipes. These types of explorations are what keep the craft beer movement going. We are always able to find a new variation of an old favorite or even something completely new.
Time for a pint…
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