Tibetan origins of lager yeast?

Vectored from Current Biology via Ed’s Beer Site:

It has been clear that the lager yeast is a hybrid with one portion of its genome having originated from S. cerevisiae ale yeast [2] . However, the source of the non-ale subgenome, which endows lager yeast with cold tolerance, had been a matter of debate [3] . Recently, a Patagonian origin hypothesis of lager yeast has been proposed based on the discovery of a new cryotolerant Saccharomyces species from Patagonian native forests of Argentina [4] . This yeast, named S. eubayanus, exhibited the closest known match (99.56%) to the non-ale portion of lager yeast and, thus, was believed to be its progenitor. However, we now show that this yeast species is likely native to the Tibetan Plateau. One of the Tibetan populations of the species exhibits closer affinity with lager yeast than the Patagonian population as inferred from population genetics and genome sequence analyses. We thus provide strong evidence for a Far East Asian origin hypothesis of lager yeast, which apparently corresponds better with geography and world trade history.

Pretty cool – and much more intuitive than a Patagonian origin, what with the aforementioned geography and history (maybe it traveled via a horsehide bagful of kumis strapped to some Mongolian saddle?), and also what with China as a possible origination point for the Saccharomyces species.

Hardly scientific, but Tibetan monks and bock-brewing Franciscans in the Alps make a pleasing kind of cultural symmetry. Plus: yetis.

 

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brew day: Wies’n-Märzen

Wiesen/Wies’n

Among several words that are confusingly similar to the non-German speaker, this one means “meadow”. It implies a beer brewed for a carnival or festival (an Oktoberfest beer may be described as a Wies’n Marzen) or a rustic speciality.

Michael Jackson, beerhunter.com

 

“There is a popular myth that there is one distinctive style of beer brewed for Oktoberfest – but historical evidence shows there have been many changes in the beers served at the festival … in the first 60 or so years the then popular Bavarian dunkel seems to have dominated … up until World War I, Bock-strength beers dominated the Wiesn. For decades reddish-brown Marzenbier ruled the tents, but … since 1990 all Oktoberfest beers brewed in Munich have been of a golden color … with medium body and low to moderate bitterness.”

Conrad Seidl, The Oxford Companion to Beer

Well then. Continue reading

brew day: Beamishish

Brewing an Irish stout: it’s been a while. So long, in fact, that any delay from a little detour into history and personal remembrance won’t significantly prolong the wait. Let’s get a beverage before the second paragraph. Continue reading

ptyalin

“Thus, it is known that the preparation of some native beers that used cereals as a source of extract involved a step where the grains were masticated by the brewer. In so doing, the addition of saliva, which contains the amylase, ptyalin, would partially degrade the starch content of the grain and thereby increase the fermentability of the wort. It is interesting to conjecture as to the train of empiricism that culminated in this process!”

Boulton & Quain, Brewing Yeast and Fermentation

It’s absolutely true, but you know, I never thought about all the misfires and shuffling steps (spits?) that had to’ve led to that discovery.

Sweeney Astray Irish Red Lager

DSC_0248

Citizens, I’ve had pints (many pints, if we’re being honest) of Caffrey’s and Smithwick’s in front of peaty turf fires an empty pint glass’s throw from the north Atlantic, but this is not going to be about peaty turf fires and Caffrey’s and Smithwick’s and throwing pint glasses. Mostly. Continue reading

Svetlé 12°

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Decoction is a meandering path to take to arrive at a beer; you can get a fermentable wort (not the same wort, though) into the boiler with less time and effort, but I think it’s safe to say that for most homebrewers, this whole thing we do is about the journey at least as much as it is the destination. Continue reading

nothing new under the sun

One of the great things about a fiber-rich diet is that it affords daddy some quality reading time in his special office, and this morning some muesli induced me to finally start digging in to Mitch Steele’s IPA (that’s an acronym for something, but I’m not far enough along in the book) and came across this nugget regarding (probable) brewing practices for the nascent style in the 18th century:

Hops were added during the boil and were often only allowed to boil for 30 minutes before being pulled out and replaced with another charge. It is cited in many brewing texts of the period that brewers believed that boiling hops for more than 30 minutes extracted rough and harsh flavors and bitterness.

Kind of a philosophical antecedent to the whole late-addition and hopbursting approach – not directly analogous and probably with not quite the same results in the kettle, but still predating the 21st century craft brewing “hoppy not bitter” mantra by a good 250 years. Nothing new under the sun.

Also:

Occasionally hair sieves were used to strain the hops from the wort.

Maybe there’s a market for follicle-based hop-separation technology in modern home- and craft brewing? Somebody try that out, let me know how it goes.