You love the blog, so subscribe to the Beervana Podcast on iTunes or Soundcloud today!

Monday, January 14, 2013

When Was Yeast Discovered?

I have a most interesting response to this question from Matthias Trum, the sixth-generation Weihenstephan-trained owner (and--little-known fact--grad of Bamberg U with an econ master's degree) of Schlenkerla.

But you first.  When was brewing yeast discovered and how do we know this? 


  1. Kind of an open ended question, so to be purely scientific about it, Emil Christian Hansen and Louis Pasteur each played big roles in the discovery and isolation of beer saccharomyces and pure cultured carlbergensis which for the vast majority of the world is beer yeast. I am guessing that isn't the answer you wanted though?

  2. The ancient Egyptians used yeast to brew stuff.

  3. I think the Ancient Egyptians just brewed stuff and yeast happened. I don't think 'discovering' yeast is equal to spontaneous fermentation any more then a Lambic brewer would claim to controll the fermenters of thier beer. Leave discovering ancient yeast to Dogfish Head. If Egyptian brewers make beer today, the discoveries made by those two mycologists (Pasteur and Hansen) have most to do with what that Egyptian brewer knows about yeast.

  4. I'm with Vasili and the Sumerians or Chinese got there first.

    Re: ancient fermented beverages
    In his 2009 book, 'Uncorking the Past: The Quest for Wine, Beer, and Other Alcoholic Beverages' Dr. Patrick E McGovern informs how 'humans created and enjoyed fermented beverages across cultures. McGovern posits fermented [honey, fruits, and grains] beverages were 'fundamental to the human condition itself'.

    Dr. McGovern is the Scientific Director of the Biomolecular Archaeology Laboratory for Cuisine, Fermented Beverages, and Health at the University of Pennsylvania Museum in Philadelphia, where he is also an Adjunct Professor of Anthropology. And, of course, he has worked with Dogfish Head's Caligone.

  5. I am about to hit "post" on the answer, but I wanted to thank you for responding--I was worried no one would join the conversation. As you will see, I would place the discovery somewhere between the Egyptians and Pasteur.