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Flavor Fever: The Elusive Flavor of Lager Yeast

These cool customers have co-evolved with us as brewers and drinkers, traveling and prospering while producing some of the world’s most popular beers. Behind these yeast strains and their important differences, there is a unique genetic story.

Randy Mosher Oct 14, 2022 - 12 min read

Flavor Fever: The Elusive Flavor of Lager Yeast Primary Image

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Subtlety is the defining characteristic of lagers. Compared to the more in-your-face personality of ales, lagers are suave and reserved. If ales are frisky puppies, lagers are purring cats. They’re not climbing up your legs; you have to meet them where they are. But lagers offer easy drinkability, a transparent showcase for brewing ingredients and sublime delights—beer after beer.

And it’s the unique characteristics of their yeast that set them apart.

Crazy Mixed-Up Yeast

Lager yeast, Saccharomyces pastorianus, is designated as a species apart from S. cerevesiae, or ale yeast. S. pastorianus is a cold-tolerant hybrid between ale yeast and a recently identified cold-tolerant species called S. bayanus—which is itself a hybrid that includes DNA from another cold-tolerant yeast, S. uvarum, with some from S. cerevisiae.

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