Yeast Family Tree: Help, Please

Detail from a 1912 brewing log: Burton No 1 Yeast.

We’d like to put together a yeast family tree showing the relationships between the varieties of yeast used by British breweries. We know, for example, of a couple of breweries using yeast originally derived from the Shepherd Neame house strain.

We picked up a few tips in the comments to this post, and will be rooting around for information ourselves, but any information you can give us (especially if supported by links to evidence) would be gratefully received.

Where you know this is commercially sensitive information (i.e. the brewery doesn’t want people to know!) then it’s probably best to respect that.

Alternatively, if someone’s already put such a family tree together, let us know where we can find it.

9 replies on “Yeast Family Tree: Help, Please”

Thanks, Wittenden!

Got very excited for a moment, and then saw that origins for most yeasts are either not made public or obfuscated, e.g. “Southwark strain”. Fascinating to note that any of those strains, including some from the forties and fifties, can be ordered, dried or live, for commercial brewing.

A word of caution. Some breweries (Whitbread for one) kept extensive yeast banks of their own, and sometimes people will talk about a “Whitbread strain” when they mean a strain obtained from there. It doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the yeast that Whitbread brewed with.

Similar confusion exists with “Weihenstephan yeast”, when people sometimes don’t understand that there’s a difference between the State Brewery and the yeast bank company associated with the Technical University.

Have your parsed some of the information about yeast from the vendors? There is some tracing there but, as I expect you know, what would be, say, “the Whitbread” could be expressed by a multitude of strains the lab folk in white coats tinker with daily. You might email the good folk who wrote this book.

This project looks like the proverbial attempt to herd cats. After most of the cats have died. 97% of which were called “Kitty”. Including the ones that never existed in the first place. If they were even cats. An existential conundrum indeed. Have fun.

I find that I don’t ever laugh loudly, sat in front of my computer, at a beer blog comment. I just broke that habit Gregg…

Love the conundrum. Have nothing to venture in support of yeast knowledge, alas.

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