The preservation of famous beers

Some beers have name recognition around the world. They’re celebrated cornerstones of every neighborhood pub and ale house. Some even have to be brewed in monasteries under the supervision of monks. But how do famous beers keep their flavor consistent? Well, a lot of it has to do with yeast.

What is yeast?
Yeast is a key ingredient  in a hodgepodge of foods and drinks we consume everyday. Are you looking to brew wine or beer out of your garage? Want to make that signature stout that puts your microbrewery on the map? Considering taking a baking program online? Odds are you’re going to have to get very comfortable using yeast. However, handling yeast properly can be tricky, and the varieties of this ingredient are wide ranging. Some companies consider their strain of yeast  to be almost sacred. Brewers, for example, preserve desirable strains of yeast to keep the taste of their beers consistent over the long term. Most baking yeasts can be found in commercial grocery stores, but brewer’s yeasts might require making a trip to your local microbrewery. Some famous beermakers keep their yeast under lock and key.

Keeping tradition alive
Beer is composed of four main ingredients: water, hops, yeast, and malt or another starch source. Preserving specific strains of yeast is important  when brewing beer, and some of the oldest beers in the world have kept certain strains alive for centuries. Guinness Brewery, which introduced the popular stout in 1759, has been using its famous strain of yeast since Arthur Guinness originally founded the company. The company keeps a small quantity locked away as an insurance policy in case the main supply is ever jeopardized.

Jennings Brewery had a similar insurance policy. When the brewery flooded in 2009, the endangered yeast the brewers used in the signature ale was lost. However, the brewery had deposited a sample of its yeast with Britain’s National Collection of Yeast Cultures, securing a future for the production of their beer. The NCYC is home to over 800 strains of brewer’s yeast from various breweries. Many of these breweries keep their yeast strains under tight security, but not all of them find it to be such a crucial secret. The NCYC’s open collection offers microbreweries yeasts used by breweries from over 50 years ago.

Breweries are dedicated to this act of preservation to create beers that taste the same for decades, or sometimes, even centuries.

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