Sour beers have been increasing in popularity for a while now; even though the brewing process can be difficult and risky. But through innovation, a yeast only sour beer is now possible.
At first glance, that won’t mean much to most but this is ground breaking work and could alter how sour beer is made in the future. Let’s break this story down and see what we can learn about this new yeast.
A Little Bit Of Science
I’m not a brewer or a scientist so I have to trust those around me when it comes to the brewing process. I’ve always been interested in sour beers and have written a few articles about them. Check those out here:
What I do know about sour beer is you need to produce alcohol as well as lactic acid. Alcohol is created by using yeast. Lactic acid is typically created by the use of specific cultures; aka bacteria.
The souring process can be risky because the bacteria will sour any beer that it gets into. Breweries have to take lots of precautions to ensure contamination doesn’t occur.
So if there is a way to make sour beer that is easier and doesn’t involve this risk, it would be good for both the breweries as well as craft beer fans.
Yeast Only Sour Beer
It’s what converts the sugars into alcohol and leaves behind additional flavors. Belgian yeast are well know for their unique flavor and a great example of what yeast can do to a beer.
So it is big news to hear that there is a yeast that can produce lactic acid since in the past this was not possible.
Wild Pitch Yeast has pioneered a new strain of yeast that makes lactic acid called YH72. This yeast provides the alcohol and the sour bite at the same time.
Co-Founders of Wild Pitch Yeast, Matt Bockman and Rob Caputo, are really excited about what this means for the future of brewing.
This is not an ale yeast or a lager yeast. Instead, it is a new strain of its own. And in case you are wondering, they’ve gone through the scientific steps to prove that the souring is happening via the yeast and not with bacteria.
Producing a Yeast Only Sour Beer
Wild Pitch Yeast has partnered with Saucy Brew Works in Cleveland, Ohio to be the first to make a yeast only sour beer on a commercial scale.
This brewery believes in this kind of forward thinking innovation and had this to say about it:
“Experimentation is the only thing that really drives the progress of beer” Eric Anderson Brew Master Saucy Brew Works
So working with Wild Pitch Yeast, Saucy Brew Works successfully brewed a sour blonde.
It is called The Drifter and uses YH72 yeast to produce it’s alcohol content as well as sour flavor profile.
Saucy Brew Words is the first brewery to make a yeast only sour at production scale.
As of the date of this article, they have it available in the brewpub.
Check Out This Video About The Yeast And Drifter – The Yeast Only Sour Beer
Why This Is Important
So why does this matter? The future of sour beer could be directly impacted by this new yeast strain. Here are some of the benefits.
No More Contamination
As I mentioned earlier, to get lactic acid in a sour beer, a brewery must use bacteria.
This bacteria will sour any beer that it gets in contact with so brewers must work hard to prevent this. But this new yeast strain means no more bacteria and eliminates the risk of contaminating other beers.
Instead of relying on culturing bacteria, brewers can rely on the consistent performance of a yeast to sour their beer. This means the flavor will be reliable as will the amount of time it takes to produce the product.
Since the brewers no longer need to use bacteria to contribute lactic acid, the brewing process becomes less complicated.
The improved process means brewers can bring more sour beer to market than in the past and at a faster pace.
I continue to learn about the brewing process but I’ve got a long way to go. But I do know that every ingredient impacts the final taste of a beer.
So will this new style of yeast produce the flavor that customers want? Or will these sour beers have their own unique flavor profile.?
Either way, it’s exciting to see continual innovation in beer.
“The rest of the world has written their brewing history and here in the United States we are continuing to write our history and part of that in the future is gong to be wild yeast.” Rob Caputo – Co-Founder Wild Pitch Yeast
Finding, understanding and using new yeast strains will impact where beer goes from here.
I haven’t tried this yeast only sour beer but I’m hoping I get the chance and can compare it to other sour beers I’ve enjoyed.
If you’re in the Cleveland, Ohio area, make sure to check out Drifter at Saucy Brew Works then let me know what you thought about it.