The yeast used in beer production can have a huge impact on the finished product. Different yeasts impart different flavor and aroma compounds and ferment in different ways. Most craft breweries reuse a portion of their yeast and propagate it for the next batch. Even when done with sterile techniques, however, the impressions produced by the yeast, which is a living thing, can become slightly altered, batch after batch, year after year.
Soon, Carlsberg will go back to the future and use yeast from a beer their forefathers brewed in 1883 to brew a fresh craft beer using the exact same recipe and methods used over 130 years ago. While modern equipment will be used (which is probably a good thing), the finished product will be very close to the original beer.
Brewing experts in Copenhagen, Denmark, discovered a bottle of one of the brewery’s very first beers in surprisingly good condition. They thought, “Whoa! With our mad laboratory skills, we can take the yeast in this bottle to create a craft beer that hasn’t been tasted since Chester A. Arthur was president in the USA. It’s just like Jurassic Park, but with beer! Muah-ha-ha-ha.” Or something like that.
The vintage, but still viable, yeast has been extracted, and the brewing process is underway. Scientists and brewers are working together to maintain fidelity to the original ancestor to the modern lager.
Most lagers around the world today owe their taste and aromas to this great-great-grandpa yeast. Back in the day, Carlsberg created the first pure lager yeast strand, isolating it and propagating it as best as they could. Rather than keep it under lock and key (as many breweries do), Carlsberg gave it to other breweries, effectively creating an open-source yeast
What was beer like the year the first telephone call was made between New York and Chicago? What was the beer like that started the great Carlsberg Brewery? We will soon know, and it will be amazing.