Ancient Yeast in Beer

By Mike Cherney for Wall Street Journal


Tim Decker hoped some lichen he found in the California hills last summer would contain an exotic strain of yeast that would give a unique flavor to his home-brewed beer.

Have an old one
Have an old one

Mr. Decker put the lichen in a jar with a sugary solution to see if the liquid would ferment, a sign that yeast, which consumes sugars and releases alcohol, could be present. Weeks later, a small wormlike grub appeared, likely crawling out of a bit of wood attached to the lichen.

“I knew pretty quickly that wasn’t going to be something I was going to want to put in my beer,” says Mr. Decker, 33 years old, who writes the AltBrau beer blog and plans to start a commercial brewing operation. In another such experiment, he found a spider floating in the jar.

Mr. Decker is in the vanguard of a brewing movement in the beer world: trying to find the weirdest, funkiest yeast. Even global drinks companies are entering the contest, hoping new and exclusive brewswith a story behind them will entice consumers who are increasingly migrating to wine and spirits.

But finding new yeasts and successfully using them in a modern brewery can take years of work—and there is no guarantee of success. Brewers sometimes have to dump thousands of gallons of undrinkable beer.

Entire Article HERE.

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