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Trivial Yeast Question/Bavarian Issues

Wed Nov 30 07:07:46 EST 1994

John Bratty wrote on German/Bavarian beer issues:
>>german speakers out there please correct me), the term "lager" derives
>>from a germanic root that refers to the longer period of time required
>>to ferment the beer.
>>There are also other strains/species of yeast used in brewing.  For
>>example, Bavarian wheat beer is normally brewed with another
>>Saccharomyces species..

I am certainly not an expert in beer history, but I live near Munich. The
word 'lager' refers more to a deposit than the fermentation process. In
Munich, the beer was kept in summer in caves near the Isar river, where
you find nice hills. There it stayed cool and the people went out to drink
the fresh, cool beer. Somebody was clever enough to see the need for shadow
in summer, planted chestnut trees on top of the hills and created the first
beergarden ('Biergarten'), an institution that still attracts in its hundreds
of copies thousands of people on warm summer days.

Still some 800 breweries exist in Bavaria. I like to mention two specialities
that must be yeast strain dependent: the beer of the '5th season' in March
that must be brewed during the winter, since the more alcohol resistant
strains need cold temperatures. It comes with up to 7% alcohol, is dark and
the second litre ('Mass') is already dangerous. The 'Weizenbier' (also called
Weissbier, but this is another story) is sold turbid containing the yeast
in the bottle where a second fermentation takes place (the true champagne
procedure, but without taking the yeast off). This give quit a lot of CO2
and some foreigners have problems to get the weissbier from the bottle into
the glass. Somebody told me that weissbier is brewed with mixtures of different
strains (?). In fact, it has been difficult to export it from Bavaria for
a long time, since it tokes about two weeks to ferment in the bottle and
after another 4 weeks lactate producing organisms take command and the beer
gets 'sour'. Modern technology has overcome this problem and even Americans
can taste it now.

I have to apologize this message, but not only yeast sequences are assembled
to chromosomes here at MIPS, Bavaria has a >900 years tradition in brewing.
Sometimes experience makes the difference. If somebody has interest to
know more about yeast strains used in brewing, I might be able to contact
the University at Weihenstephan were the have the oldes brewery in the world.

H. Werner Mewes
MPI f. Biochemie
MIPS, Martinsried, Germany
Informatics coordinator of the EU Yeast Sequencing Project

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