Does anyone question where the major yeast manufactures source their yeast?

Homebrew Talk - Beer, Wine, Mead, & Cider Brewing Discussion Forum

Help Support Homebrew Talk:

Jaffy

Member
Joined
Mar 13, 2022
Messages
20
Reaction score
24
Now I'm not complaining that we essentially have access to some of the major yeast strains used by a lot of the major breweries and larger craft breweries, in fact I am fond of harvesting the yeast of bottle conditioned beers myself, however, has anyone questioned how these people get some of the more property less readily available yeast strains? Like, bottled conditioned beers are easy to source, but like, some companies are EXTREMELY protective over their strains and keep them closely guarded, how do companies like White Labs and Wyeast exactly obtain these strains? I mean, supposedly, American Lager by White Labs is the Budweiser strain. How could they source something like that from a company as merciless as Anheuser-Busch?
 

Protos

The Gulper
Joined
Jan 7, 2019
Messages
449
Reaction score
459
Location
Valle Lacrimarum
I guess, maybe both breweries and commercial yeast labs source their yeasts from yeast banks in scientific institutions? There are wast yeast collections kept in brewing institutes in Germany, f. ex. Also, I recall the story of Grätzer revival, where the "lost" yeast was recovered from a Polish agricultural institute collection.
 

McMullan

wort maker
HBT Supporter
Joined
Dec 22, 2015
Messages
1,528
Reaction score
1,800
Why question it? No one owns any rights on brewer's yeast. Just like no one owns rights on oak trees. The main issue is using other company's trademarks. Unless specific agreements are in place it risks messy legal challenges. I began setting up an English ale yeast bank several years ago, with yeast sourced direct from Breweries or their bottle conditioned beers, polypins, pints, as well as from commercial suppliers, e.g., Brewlab, White Labs and Wyeast. Breweries haven't always been reluctant to give away yeast slurry to home brewers. Most interesting strains are from small, friendly, local breweries. But nowadays increased competition and marketing speil about the Brewery's strain seem to make some less generous. I think White Labs and Wyeast both did a lot of field work collecting strains very early on. I'd question where more recently set up suppliers source yeast. Most likely from White Labs and Wyeast, ironically. Sold with a different marketing pitch full of funky colours, fruity flavours and a dash of desperate Norse mythology.
 

Miraculix

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 4, 2017
Messages
5,982
Reaction score
4,580
Location
Bremen
Why question it? No one owns any rights on brewer's yeast. Just like no one owns rights on oak trees. The main issue is using other company's trademarks. Unless specific agreements are in place it risks messy legal challenges. I began setting up an English ale yeast bank several years ago, with yeast sourced direct from Breweries or their bottle conditioned beers, polypins, pints, as well as from commercial suppliers, e.g., Brewlab, White Labs and Wyeast. Breweries haven't always been reluctant to give away yeast slurry to home brewers. Most interesting strains are from small, friendly, local breweries. But nowadays increased competition and marketing speil about the Brewery's strain seem to make some less generous. I think White Labs and Wyeast both did a lot of field work collecting strains very early on. I'd question where more recently set up suppliers source yeast. Most likely from White Labs and Wyeast, ironically. Sold with a different marketing pitch full of funky colours, fruity flavours and a dash of desperate Norse mythology.

:D
 

McMullan

wort maker
HBT Supporter
Joined
Dec 22, 2015
Messages
1,528
Reaction score
1,800

:D
So it would seem, on the surface, but plant cultivars were intentionally produced by specific crosses, which can be demonstrated by submitted evidence to support a patent claim. In a sense, they are considered inventions. Obviously, I was referring to real oak trees that are what they are naturally and not intentionally alterered by human interventions. 😁 Unless a brewery is able to document how they intentionally produced a novel yeast strain and maintained its integrity they'd be laughed out of the patent office. The ecology of breweries shaping yeast strain characteristics is far to complicated to support a coherent claim. Non GM brewer's yeast are just like real oak trees.
 

madscientist451

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 10, 2014
Messages
5,496
Reaction score
3,273
Location
Bedford
Here's an interesting article sort of about the OP's question, and Omega yeast states that a third of their strains were from bottles of beer they purchased:
 

McMullan

wort maker
HBT Supporter
Joined
Dec 22, 2015
Messages
1,528
Reaction score
1,800
Here's an interesting article sort of about the OP's question, and Omega yeast states that a third of their strains were from bottles of beer they purchased:
They state they have a strict policy to never resell any strains banked by commercial brewers, unless explicitly given permission, but that kind of information is usually private under contractual conditions between brewery and yeast bank. Nor would they need permission. Makes them sound like a reputable business, though. More funky colours and mythology. Rule one, to succeed in a competive market already occupied: talk **** at every opportunity. Think BrewDog, who I think published a book about 'workarounds' in business and how to avoid getting caught.
 

Northern_Brewer

British - apparently some US company stole my name
Joined
Aug 16, 2017
Messages
3,582
Reaction score
3,167
Location
UK
Now I'm not complaining that we essentially have access to some of the major yeast strains used by a lot of the major breweries and larger craft breweries, in fact I am fond of harvesting the yeast of bottle conditioned beers myself, however, has anyone questioned how these people get some of the more property less readily available yeast strains? Like, bottled conditioned beers are easy to source, but like, some companies are EXTREMELY protective over their strains and keep them closely guarded, how do companies like White Labs and Wyeast exactly obtain these strains? I mean, supposedly, American Lager by White Labs is the Budweiser strain. How could they source something like that from a company as merciless as Anheuser-Busch?
Denny's is perhaps not untypical - it's very similar to the old Brewtek CL-50, which had its origins in the UCD yeastbank :

Don't forget that any British brewer sends out yeast in every cask they send to pubs, so for British yeasts it's trivially easy, apart from a handful like Marstons that don't use their production yeasts to cask condition. And even with kegging, it's sometimes possible to harvest yeast that's slipped through the filters sometimes - it's certainly happened with the Adnams minikegs (although it's much easier from their - rarer - minicasks or their pub casks).

But as has been already mentioned, historically most brewers were pretty generous with their yeast, and in some cases there was so much interchange that you can't really talk of a specific brewery yeast in places like Edinburgh, they shared it around so much that effectively there was just one Edinburgh multistrain.

It's also worth noting that a lot of the "classic" White Labs and Wyeast strains came from homebrewers who had been sharing them around for much of the 1990s, sometimes via the likes of Brewtek, and so there was quite a lot of scope for them to either get mislabelled or drift away from the original genetics. Certainly seems to have happened in the case of WLP002/1968 which are fervently believed to have come from Fuller's but don't taste anything like the real Fuller's yeast (whereas eg Imperial Pub seems to have much more of the distinctive Fuller's oranginess, and I assume represents an independent isolation of yeast with far fewer links in the chain between cask/bottle and yeastbank).
 

Miraculix

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 4, 2017
Messages
5,982
Reaction score
4,580
Location
Bremen
Denny's is perhaps not untypical - it's very similar to the old Brewtek CL-50, which had its origins in the UCD yeastbank :

Don't forget that any British brewer sends out yeast in every cask they send to pubs, so for British yeasts it's trivially easy, apart from a handful like Marstons that don't use their production yeasts to cask condition. And even with kegging, it's sometimes possible to harvest yeast that's slipped through the filters sometimes - it's certainly happened with the Adnams minikegs (although it's much easier from their - rarer - minicasks or their pub casks).

But as has been already mentioned, historically most brewers were pretty generous with their yeast, and in some cases there was so much interchange that you can't really talk of a specific brewery yeast in places like Edinburgh, they shared it around so much that effectively there was just one Edinburgh multistrain.

It's also worth noting that a lot of the "classic" White Labs and Wyeast strains came from homebrewers who had been sharing them around for much of the 1990s, sometimes via the likes of Brewtek, and so there was quite a lot of scope for them to either get mislabelled or drift away from the original genetics. Certainly seems to have happened in the case of WLP002/1968 which are fervently believed to have come from Fuller's but don't taste anything like the real Fuller's yeast (whereas eg Imperial Pub seems to have much more of the distinctive Fuller's oranginess, and I assume represents an independent isolation of yeast with far fewer links in the chain between cask/bottle and yeastbank).
I've read on the forum here that somebody got into contact with the Imperial yeast guys and asked about the origin of their a09 pub. The response said that it originated from a yeast bank sample taken back in the 80s (if I remember the year correctly) which came directly from the Fuller's brewery. I think that this is probably true.
 
Top