The Beer Chronicles

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The Lager Yeast

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About 600 years ago, the German lager was born, but it is a mystery how the yeast (responsible for making lager) which originated in Agentina, traveled to Europe. Lager was invented around the same time, when Columbus set sail, could it be him?

Since the 1980’s, geneticists have known that the lager is made of of S.pastorianus which in turn was a hybrid of two yeast species – S. cerevisiae (used in making ales, wines and bread) and another unidentified organism. For many decades, this unidentified organism had baffled scientists. Now in the last five years a scientific team has discoered, identified and named the organism – Saccharomysces eubayanus. The yeast is said to be 99.5% identical to the non-ale portion of the lager genome.

This orange colored yeast was found in galls on southern beech trees in Patagonia, Argentina. The galls are used to make a fermenented beverage by the natives.

The scientists believe that the organism found its way to Europe and hybridized with the domestic yeast used to brew ale, creating an organism that can ferment at the lower temperatures used to make lager.

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Written by admin

August 31, 2011 at 5:15 pm

One Response

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  1. That’s amazing! Always interesting to hear which “European” food products actually came from the new world. (Like how we associate tomatoes with Italian cooking…)

    Say, “cerevisiae” looks kind of like the Spanish word “cervesa.” I guess they must come from the same latin root or something..

    Sean

    August 31, 2011 at 11:02 pm


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