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  1. #11
    Guru
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    Re: A question of yeast

    A little off-topic, but not much:

    Years ago, I remember reading about one of the world's great beers, Pilsner Urqell from Chekoslovakia (I probably misspelled that). The article said that it is brewed with a yeast culture that has been maintained for over 1300 years! (I read it a long time ago - maybe it was since the 13th century, but I think the 1300 years figure is the correct one). It has been nurtured and protected throughout not a few wars and other upheavals.

    It that is true, it amazes me.


  2. #12
    The Boss
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    Re: A question of yeast

    Pilsner Urquell ... now that's some good beer, one of my all time favorites.

    Although it's sounds like the stuff of legend, it's hard to believe that a society that didnt know about the existence of micro-organisms until about 150 years ago could successfully maintain a yeast culture for more than a millenium. It's not so difficult for me to believe that they started with a batch of yeast 1300 years ago, and are still working with the descendants of those organisms; i just can't buy that the yeast cells they are using today resemble their antecedents in any way other than that they are yeast cells.


    Cheers,

    Jim Butler
    Straightbourbon.com

  3. #13
    Connoisseur
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    Re: A question of yeast

    I suspect you are right -- but I, like you, love the beer -- especially when it is fresh in Europe.

    Greg


  4. #14
    Bourbonian of the Year 2002 and Guru
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    Re: A question of yeast

    Sour mash is a big part of the equation, because it creates an environment friendly to the good yeast and hostile to outsiders.

    But as for propagation of a particular strain, Jim hit the nail on the head. What a practical distiller cares about is performance, not the genetic purity of the strain. They judge this more with their noses than with their microscopes. That is why they keep the yeast going in multiple locations, so that if one batch "goes bad" (i.e., mutates into an unfavorable form), they can get some of the good stuff and pick up where they left off.

    <A target="_blank" HREF=http://cowdery.home.netcom.com>--Chuck Cowdery</A>

  5. #15
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    Re: A question of yeast

    Based on those talks with Master Distillers I'd summarize that yeast can be just as important as the mashbill. And you're right about the 'hooey."

    If you want to taste what difference in yeast, lower corn content, and mingling will do get to Kentucky or Indiana and try a bottle a top seller in Europe, Four Roses yellow label. Smoooooooooth.

    Greg


  6. #16
    **DONOTDELETE**
    Guest

    Re: A question of yeast

    OK Greg here we go!

    This is a good example of how simular men with simular tastes like very different bourbons.Greg and myself are both devastatingly handsome middle aged men with beautiful blond wives. We both like bourbon. Here the simularity ends.

    Greg loves wheaters, but I as rule do not. Greg likes Basil Hayden's, but I do not. Greg likes Four Roses yellow label 80 proof. I don't. Greg calls it smooooooth. I call it blaaaaaand. Tastes like a canadian blend to me. I bought a bottle once and will never buy another.

    So who's right and who's wrong? We're both right! We find what suits our taste buds and drink it. We also say good things about the bourbons we like. We don't take personal umbrage if someone doesn't like what we like or think the way we think.

    We do rag on each other from time to time, but all in good fun.

    Linn Spencer

    Have Shotglass. Will Travel.

  7. #17
    Enthusiast
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    Midland, MI
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    Re: A question of yeast

    >Sour mash is a big part of the equation, because it creates an environment
    > friendly to the good yeast and hostile to outsiders.

    That's certainly true, but there are other ways of going about it than the
    sour mash process. The idea is to merely lower the pH, which can be
    done easily with a litle of your favorite acid (often citric acid). In order to
    deflect criticism that you're doctoring up your bourbon with something
    other than grains/water/yeast, you might be able to include it in your
    "yeast nutrient" that's required to keep the yeast culture going.

    I have a feeling that the sour mash process also keeps the same
    strains of bacteria going, but that's just a hunch.


  8. #18
    The Boss
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    Re: A question of yeast

    Tim,
    I think you got that right. Brewing supply houses almost universally have their house brand of "yeast nutrient" and are almost always secretive about it's ingredients. It's usually just a small bottle of white powder containing anthra ... I mean calcium carbonate, amongst other things. I've always thought about sticking a piece of litmus paper into it, but just havent done it. I'm pretty sure I've got some of the stuff in stock ... I'll give it a shot, then let y'all know of the outcome.

    Cheers,

    Jim Butler
    Straightbourbon.com

  9. #19
    Bourbonian of the Year 2002 and Guru
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    Re: A question of yeast

    Remember that sour mash evolved in era when the science of what was happening was little understood. Although there might be more efficient ways to accomplishing the same thing today, there's got to be an "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" attitude at work. Also, we know there are still more than a few mysteries to bourbon-making, another reason not to tamper with success.

    As I understand it, although the mash is monitored carefully for the presence of unwanted microorganisms, the sour mash process does a pretty thorough job of keeping them out by conditioning the mash so it is hospitable to the wanted bugs and hostile to the unwanted ones.

    <A target="_blank" HREF=http://cowdery.home.netcom.com>--Chuck Cowdery</A>

 

 

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