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Yeast history

Here is a question for the brewing history aficionados.


The saloon goer back then likely didn’t give a wit if his beer had a consistent taste from day to day just as long as it didn’t taste horrible and quenched the thirst.
I wonder when the big brewers started maintaining strains for consistency and if it was more for economic reasons rather than consistent taste (customer satisfaction).

Anyone know what this is? Class? Anyone? Anyone?

I personally do not know the answer to your question, but this lady may know. She wrote a book on the history of American brewing, it’s called Ambitious Brew.

If you email her would you post the response?

Very cool. It’s an out-there-question and didn’t expect a huge response. But was pondering how and when science breakthroughs allowed breweries to start managing yeast as we know today.
I would also like to see a graph of the strains of brewing yeast v the past decades and how many of those are North American in origin versus European.

I checked and can get my hands on that book. Maybe it quiet my little brain. :stuck_out_tongue:

Will pass on info if/when I find it.

FWIW, that sounds more like a quasi-ethnography of American brewing culture, so I’m not sure she’ll have much to offer regarding the biological evolution of American brewing. Still, it’s worth a shot.

You might do better by contacting The Beer Archaologist, Patrick McGovern
, though, or reading up on his past works.

Here’s his contact page[/url], which I found on [url=]his site


I wouldn’t be surprised if the purity of yeast was getting serious attentionby the mid/late 1800’s, with the work of Louis Pasteur.
In addition to his discoveries with regard to yeast, it is interesting to note that beer was evidently one of the first beverages to be pasteurized (some argue that it actually was the first).

To read about that and a lot more, here’s a link to a VERY interesting website:

I love that Pasteur’s observations of the micro-culture in beer were apparently instrumental to his indispensable contributions to modern medicine.

This article

mentions how and when German lager yeast came to America.

If that’s true, the fact that someone bothered to bring yeast all the way here from Bavaria suggests that yeast preservation was already of great concern by the mid-1800s.

[quote=“Brew On”]Here is a question for the brewing history aficionados.

Most bottom-fermenting breweries would have been using pure yeast strains. Big breweries would have propagated the yeast themselves using Hansen’s apparatus or something similar. Smaller breweries would have bought it. There’s a whole chapter on yeast propagation in “The American Handy Book of Brewing, Malting and Auxiliary Trades” by Wahl and Henius, published in 1902.

Ale brewers would have been less likely to use a pure yeast culture. Especially one making genuine aged Stock Ales, as you can’t get a true secondary fermentation from a pure strain. That’s one of the reasons British brewers were so slow to move over to single-strain pitching cultures. Some still haven’t even today.

In the earlier 19th century, British brewers often used yeast from other brewers. In the 1850’s William Younger used yeast from just about every brewery in Edinburgh. Except their own. Sometimes half of a brew was fermented with one brewery’s yeast and the other half with another’s.

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