Putting the Beer in Beard

By Josh Agate | June 26, 2012 | 0 Comments |
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The four main ingredients in a classic beer recipe are hops, malted barley, water and yeast.  The first two components provide the greatest contribution to the complex varieties of beers that we drink.  The hops provide additions in two key areas: in the nose or scent of the beer and also the bitterness.  The malted barley contributes to a number of characteristics including coloration, ABV, and much of the body or flavor (see: The Facts About Beer ABV).   The complex sugars are extracted from the barley and the yeast is responsible for converting those sugars to alcohol.  There are a number of yeast varieties used, but most styles have a prototypical strain that is most commonly used.  One prime example is Belgian yeast strains, which give these brews a subtle sweetness that is characteristic of the style.

Unchartered territory is now being explored as brewers look to developing new yeast strains to develop even further complexities.  Leave it to one of the most revolutionary breweries in the US, and their name says it all, Rogue Brewery.  This Oregon based brewery has a number of wild brews including Chipotle Ale, Juniper Pale Ale, and my personal favorite Dead Guy Ale.  Recently they started working with White Labs – a company that produces brewer’s yeast, to develop their own personal yeast strain.  Originally, they took three different samples from the Rogue hopyard, but were unable to produce a viable strain.  The search continued in a less likely location: Rogue brewmaster, John Maier’s beard.   Nine hairs were plucked from this well-manicured specimen and sure enough, they were able to develop a live yeast strain.  Word on the street is that they plan to use this strain in a 2013 release they have coined New Crustacean.  We will let you try and connect the dots on that one.

A slightly more palatable example comes from Lakefront Brewery out of Milwaukee, WI.  This brewery had different motivations when they produced their unfiltered Weiss beer, Wisconsinite.  Their goal was to make a beer that was made from 100% locally grown products.  The water, hops, malted barley and wheat were fairly easy to come by.  Lakefront worked with Northern Brewer to develop the first North American grown yeast strain, which was a used to develop this fantastic summer brew.  The yeast has been made commercially available to brewers through Wyeast Labs and Northern Brewer.  Fortunately for all of us, the exact origins of this strain remain unknown.

Your Choice. Your Beer. Drink Up.
- Beer Universe

Josh Agate is a staff writer for Beer Universe follow him on Twitter at jagatelife

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