As certain soulful brewers like to say, we don’t make the beer—the yeast do that. We’re only the custodians, or the shepherds. In any case, the labs have been busy developing new critters for us to corral. We haven’t tried them all, but here’s a rundown of a few notables that can make new beers for us. (Unfortunately, they don’t clean up afterward.)
Escarpment Lactic Magic
Escarpment Laboratories, escarpmentlabs.com
Like Lallemand with its Philly Sour strain, Ontario’s Escarpment Labs says it captured a wild strain of Lachancea thermotolerans in its Guelph backyard. Likewise, this yeast can ferment wort while producing a moderate level of lactic acid. It’s also tolerant of hops, unlike Lactobacillus. Strains like this are attractive for those who don’t want to mess with kettle-souring—but they also can be slow fermenters, less than ideal for those who would rather not tie up a tank or carboy for two or three weeks.
Omega Cosmic Punch
Omega Yeast, omegayeast.com
Produced by CRISPR technology—that is, gene editing—this strain is a result of the growing knowledge about how yeast affect hop aroma. In this case, Cosmic Punch includes more of an enzyme that unlocks hop thiols—those highly aromatic compounds that can smell like guava, passion fruit, and white grape. In short, this yeast should be able to amplify the tropical hit of your next IPA.
Berkeley Yeast, berkeleyyeast.com
Berkeley developed this strain in a different way—by inserting a gene into a London ale strain—but the purpose is similar to that of Cosmic Punch: to produce more of an enzyme that unlocks thiols. Their tests found that the strain can even do this with unhopped beers.
Lallemand Brewing, lallemandbrewing.com/en/united-states/
Not a product of genetic modification but of selective breeding, this strain ferments like other saison strains in almost every respect—high attenuation, peppery-spicy profile—but with an important exception: It’s not diastatic. The STA1 gene characteristic of many other saison/farmhouse strains is simply not present. The idea is that brewers can use Farmhouse to get a dry saison that tastes like a dry saison, but without risking a diastaticus infection that will continue to chomp dextrins in the package (a hazard) or elsewhere in the brewhouse.