Monthly Archives: November 2018

An updated brewing yeast family tree

I’ve been bad at updating the blog lately, as I have been busy writing on my thesis, taking care of our 1.5 year old son, and being involved in various smaller brewing research projects at work. We’ve had a number of results published during the autumn, including two papers on kveik (here and here) and one on adaptive evolution of a low-diacetyl lager strain (here). I’ll write a separate post about those if I have time. Anyways, the point of this post was to share an updated version of the brewing yeast family tree I’ve blogged about a couple times before. An interesting preprint, A polyploid admixed origin of beer yeasts derived from European and Asian wine populations by Fay et al. (link), was uploaded recently to bioRxiv. In it they propose that the Ale beer / Beer 1 strains are derived from admixture between strains of the Sake/Asian and European Wine populations. In the study they sequenced a number of commercial Wyeast, Fermentis and Lallemand strains, which I retrieved the sequence data for (Bioproject PRJNA504476) and added to the previous version of the tree consisting mainly of White Labs strains (here and here). Below you’ll find the tree in PDF format (click on the image below) together with some observations by ‘qq’ and me. For clarity I decided to keep out the non-brewing strains from the 1011 yeast genomes.

Here are some comments from ‘qq’ (with minor modification by me):

Safbrew WB-06 and Wyeast 1388 Belgian Strong (“Duvel”) – With both of them STA1+, it is no great surprise to see them both up in Beer2 near WLP570 which supposedly came to Duvel from McEwans.

Lallemand BRY-97 – Surprisingly, this strain doesn’t group with the Beer 1 US strains, but rather in the Mixed group. As supposedly one of the key strains in the story of US yeast going from East to West, what is this doing here and not in the main US group?
Muntons English – Presumably not Munton’s Gold but the “ordinary” Munton’s dry yeast, which shows up in a lot of kits. The story goes that this was the old EDME yeast related to Windsor/S-33 which is consistent with what we see here.

Brewferm Lager – not on the chart but according to Table S2 this falls in the Mixed group.

Lallemand Munich – with the other German hefeweizen strains as you’d expect
Wyeast 3068 – supposedly Weihenstephan 68, the classic German wheat (and supposedly the origin of Danstar Munich Classic?)

Wyeast 1007 German – the internet had thought this could be close to K-97 and WLP036, but WLP003 German II makes sense
Wyeast 2565 Kolsch – Makes sense that it’s close to our old friend WLP800 Pilsner.
Wyeast 3463 Forbidden Fruit – assumed to be from Hoegaarden Verboden Vrucht (link), plausible that it’s in that WLP410/510 Belgian Wit II group although actually WLP400 Belgian Wit is meant to be Hoegaarden
Wyeast 3787 Trappist HG – supposedly from Westmalle, close to that WLP400 “Hoegaarden” and WLP530 “Abbey Ale”
Wyeast 3942 Belgian Wheat – supposedly from De Dolle, a Belgian brewery not known for its wits but the yeast falls in that wit group.

Wyeast 1764 Pacman, Wyeast seem to have stopped offering Rogue’s yeast from their Private Collection but Imperial A18 Joystick is meant to be the same. Supposed to be a better-behaved derivative of Chico and this seems to confirm that ancestry.

Wyeast 1275 Thames Valley (“Brakspear”) – close to WLP023 Burton Ale which despite the name is also meant to come from Brakspear.
Wyeast 1332 Northwest – not surprising that it’s close to WLP041 Pacific (“Redhook”) in the WLP002/007 group as it’s meant to come from Hales of Seattle. Mike Hale spent a year in England at Gale’s and brought the yeast back with him (link) and a former brewer at Gale’s has specifically said Gale’s used Whitbread B (link). Supposedly Gale’s got their yeast from Brickwoods, the main brewery in Portsmouth who were bought by Whitbread in 1971. This supports the idea that the WLP002/007 group represents the Whitbread B family, perhaps the most important group of British industrial yeasts. The Gale’s yeast is now used by Marble among others.
Wyeast 1968 London ESB – bit surprising that it’s not closer to WLP002 English since the internet reckons they both come from Fuller’s. But neither of them seem to quite have the “marmalade-iness” of real Fuller’s beer, either they’ve mutated or weren’t actually from Fuller’s in the first place.
Escarpment Labs Vermont Ale – The ‘classic’ NEIPA strain is closely related to Wyeast 1968 in the Whitbread B group.
Coopers Australian Ale Yeast – presumably the dry yeast from their kits? Seems to be an outlier of the main UK Beer1 group which makes sense for an Australian yeast if somewhat distant from WLP009 Australian Ale also supposedly from Coopers.
Wyeast 1098 British Ale – Wyeast 1098 and 1099 are both meant to come from Whitbread, and you will see tables on the internet saying that 1098 is equivalent to WLP007 Dry English. It’s clearly not, it’s close to WLP017 Whitbread II  (an elusive Vault strain) and 1318 London Ale III. It’s a shame that we don’t have sequence for 1099 but its brewing numbers suggest that it’s not much like WLP007 either.
Wyeast 1318 London Ale III – Seems to be another member of that little Whitbread II subfamily.  Traditionally it’s linked to Boddington’s which I never quite believed but Boddies had all sorts of yeast problems in the 1980s and were bought by Whitbread in 1989 so it’s plausible that the original yeast was ultimately replaced by one from the yeast bank at head office (perhaps after they’d tried others?). 1318 is a super-fashionable strain that everyone seems to be using for NEIPAs and is known for hop biotransformation, so it might be interesting to test its relatives for that.
Wyeast 1945 NeoBritannia – An exclusive that Wyeast used to do for Northern Brewer before the ABInBev takeover. Close relative of 1318 in the Whitbread II group.
Wyeast 1469 West Yorkshire – Was fully expecting this to be a Beer2 strain! 1469 is meant to come from Timothy Taylor, who got their yeast from Oldham, who got their yeast from John Smith’s. The John Smith yeast also went to Harvey’s (the source of VTT-A81062, a Beer2 strain). So it’s a bit of a surprise that 1469 is in the heart of the UK Beer1 strains, closest to WLP022 Essex (“Ridleys”). So either the traditional stories aren’t true, there’s been contamination/mixups, or we’re looking at John Smith being some kind of multistrain with both Beer 1’s and Beer 2’s in it.
Wyeast 1028 London Ale (“Worthington White Shield”) and Wyeast 1728 Scottish Ale “McEwans” – wasn’t expecting them to be so close, and for 1728 to be so far from WLP028 Edinburgh (also “McEwans” but at other end of main UK group). Also interesting to see them close to the WLP011 European and WLP072 French pairing, and some way from WLP013 which is also meant to be from White Shield.
Wyeast 1187 Ringwood – as expected close to WLP005 British and NCYC1187. In general Wyeast strains seem to have diverged more than White Labs, and this is a good example.
Safale S-04 – Closely related to WLP006 Bedford (“Charles Wells”) and WLP013 London, even though internet tradition always called it a dry version of Whitbread B. It’s nowhere close to the Whitbread strains.

Hopefully this should be useful both for finding yeast substitutes and elucidating the history of these strains. As genome sequencing becomes cheaper and more accessible all the time, we will certainly be able to update the tree with more strains in the future.