What We Recently Learned About Beer – Saturday School Lesson 1
It seems that every time we visit a new brewery, or talk with a brewer (home or commercial), or drink with a beer aficionado, we learn something new about beer, brewing, and/or the beer industry. We’re not intending this category of posts to cover beer news by any means (though it might on occasion). Instead, we’ll use it as a short weekly section to discuss something new and interesting that we’ve come across that will increase the education level of craft beer enthusiasts. In this inaugural post: yeast, an ingredient that beer makers know well, but that beer drinkers often overlook. And there will surely be more than one posting about yeast, as these single lessons are definitely not intended as encyclopedias for every topic covered.
As many know, yeast is a very important variable in the fermentation process. Most breweries contract out to different companies to purchase their yeast, often collaborating to design their own individual strains that become proprietary to that specific brewery. Firestone Walker also has proprietary yeast, but they employ microbiologist to develop and monitor their unique yeast strains on site at their brewery. They have a truly impressive lab just for these folks to work their magic so as to create even more delicious, and identifiably Firestone beer. Such an in-house lab is quite a stand out feature in the craft beer industry.
Like their northern neighbor, Sierra Nevada, many brewers and drinkers can pick-up the taste of the Firestone House yeast, particularly the strand they use in the majority of their beer (they also have proprietary yeast for two more specific beers). We’ve been trying Firestone beer ever since departing their facility on June 16th to train our palettes to their particular yeast-flavor notes. For more on our visit, watch for our “Beer Mecca” post later this weekend. For more on the details of yeast and the depth of its effects on your drinking experience, we highly recommend “Zymurgy,” a glossy magazine of the Homebrewers Association with frequent articles dedicated to this key ingredient.