Yeast Strains from Various Labs

There are many different kinds of yeast. Choosing the strain of yeast you want to use is every bit as important as choosing the right grains and the right hops. Changing the yeast will change your beer. How much it changes, of course, depends on the similarity, or lack thereof, between the two yeasts. This sub-page is aimed at providing as much information as I can find about different yeast strains and descriptions of their characteristics, so that, if you DO use the "wrong" yeast, you will be doing so by design to get a desired variation on a style.

The ones we, as brewers, are most concerned with are Saccharomyces cerevisiae for ales, S. uvarum and S. pastorianus—which is also known by the (outdated) synonym, S. carlsbergensis—for lagers, and, while not directly related to making beer, S. bayanus (Pasteur Champagne yeast) is often used for making cider. Oh, and let's not forget the Belgians! Belgian beers, particularly lambics, often use, along with S. cerevisiae, various combinations of Brettanomyces (a wild yeast, characteristic flavors described as "horse blanket", "horsey", and "horse sweat"), and Pediococcus and Lactobacillus (both normally thought of as beer-spoilage bacteria)—but the Belgians, through centuries of experience (and, if you ask me, magic!), combine these normally serious flaws and produce some very nice beers).

A Bit of History (BrewTek)

Back in the good ol' days, there was a combination homebrew shop and yeast lab called, respectively, Brewers Resource and BrewTek (the two names are generally used interchangeably). Brewers Resource sold the BrewTek yeast strains on slants—in two sizes, mini-slants for master slants, and normal-sized slants for working slants. They also sold blank slants of both sizes, and blank plates, already prepared with their fast-growth agar, at very reasonable prices. All was well in the brewing world. Then, at some point ca. 2001, they vanished without a trace. Sadly, the days of inexpensive prepared culture media went out with BrewTek.

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