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Suregork Loves Beer

Beer Reviews, Homebrew, Rambling

Brewing yeast family tree (Oct 2019 update)

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Two new fantastic paper on interspecies Saccharomyces hybrids were recently published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. One from the Hittinger lab and collaborators, and the other from the Verstrepen lab and collaborators. A bunch of new commercially available brewing yeast strains were sequenced during the projects, and this meant there was yet again more data available to add to the brewing yeast tree (latest version now always available from the link https://beer.suregork.com/tree). The tree has been updated mainly with lager yeasts and a number of Wyeast strains. I’ve left out the S. kudriavzevii hybrids for now (e.g. WY1214, WLP500 and Abbaye, but these group in the Beer 2 clade). Anyways, enjoy (click for PDF):

I’ve left out a couple of strains, because they didn’t seem to make much sense (possible mixups or mislabelling?).

WLP530 and WLP775 grouped closely together off in a long branch in the wine clade, so I left these out. But it might be that they belong there?

WLP566 grouped in the Beer 1 clade, and had homozygous nonsense mutations in both PAD1 and FDC1 (meaning it should be POF-), despite being a POF+ saison strain. I left in WLP566 from the Gallone et al. 2016 paper instead.

WY1187 was sequenced in three runs, one was pure S. cerevisiae the other two were lager strains. So I don’t know if there has been a mix up or if this is a blend? I left in the S. cerevisiae run.

As revealed in both papers, WLP029, WLP051, and WLP515 are lager yeasts. WLP838 seems to be a S. cerevisiae strain.

It’s interesting to see that there are no Saaz strains among the commercially available lager yeast, they all are Frohberg.

The infamous WLP644 strain was also sequenced, and it can be found in the Beer 2 clade, close to the ‘Duvel’ strains.

For old versions, with a lot of good discussion about the strains, see here: Nov 2018, Apr 2018, and Dec 2017.

Thanks for having a look and feel free to leave a comment 🙂

12 Comments

  1. Great stuff.

    If I was guessing what English cider yeasts were, I’d expect them at a first guess to be a slightly distant member of the Beer2/wine group, so it’s plausible that WLP775 English Cider is right – and if that’s right then Westmalle using a cider yeast is no less weird than anything else that happens in Belgium….

    I think we have to assume 1187 is a mixup, in the absence of other information – I guess if you got your hands on some you could at least do the “lager PCR” on a few colonies?

  2. Also interesting to see some of the links in the English strains shuffling around – S-04 and 1098 are now quite close which makes a bit more sense, and the fact that WLP838 is close to a 1187 sequence reinforces the idea that WLP838 and 1187 got mixed up by the Hittinger lab.

    Next time, you could throw in WLP070 Kentucky which is a lager strain in the Leuven sequences?

  3. There was a bit of shuffling around yes, as there were some strains from the Fay et al. paper that were sequenced at a very low coverage, so the SNP calling wasn’t very reliable. I’ll add in WLP070 next time (and possible other missing WLP lager strains from the KULeuven paper)!

  4. Thanks a lot Kristoffer!

    Overall I like Kristen Englands MrMalty yeast comparison chart, but a couple of strain obviously don’t match up anymore:

    WY 1098 British ale & WLP007 Dry English Ale
    WY 1728 Scottish Ale & WLP028 Edinburgh Ale
    WY 1028 London Ale & WLP013 London Ale

    WY 2206 Bavarian lager & WLP820 Oktoberfest/Marzen Lager
    WY 2007 Pilsen Lager & WLP840 American Pilsner Lager
    WY 2124 Bohemian lager & WLP830 German Lager // W3470

    Also WY 3787 Trappist High Gravity & WLP530 Abbey Ale were considered of the same brewery namely Westmalle, right? So definitely not the same yeast strain?

  5. It would be cool to see the kveik yeast squeezed in there again on the next one!

  6. Yes, I already promised Lars and Richard that they would be back in for the next version 🙂

  7. I tried finding a Saaz yeast strain for a historic beer project. Let s just say it as general as possible: commercial yeast banks know about it, but don t like to talk about it. Seriously considering just ordering NCYC396 whenever I ve got more time for it.

  8. Hi Kristoffer

    I’m Tilo, a homebrewer from Germany.

    Thanks a lot for your amazing work!

    I have a few questions regarding lager yeasts, in particular the difference between Saaz and Frohberg strains:

    1) Are you aware of any breweries that still use Saaz strains for making lagers, or have they basically vanished into the archives?

    2) 19th century lagers often seem to have exhibited much lower apparent attenuation figures (Ron Pattinson has collated und published a lot of old German brewery records), sometimes as low as 46% and often in the range of the lower 60%s. Could this be an indication of a much wider use of Saaz strains, as the latter seem to have issues with utilising maltotriose?

    3) The history of the yeast(s) used at Pilsen is somewhat shrouded in mystery, and there are contradictory articles regarding the use of several different strains in parallel. Also, your work shows up a lot of contradictions regarding strains being sold as “Pilsen” strains. However, even today, published attenuation figures of Pilsner Urquell still seem relatively low (ca. 72%). Probably on its own a low AA figure is not enough to judge, but could this still be an indication that they still use (a) Saaz strain(s), or is this mostly unlikely?

    Best regards
    Tilo

  9. Hi Tilo,
    Thanks for your great comment! I will need to do a bit of research before being able to properly answer your question. But, yes, commercial use of Saaz strains appears to be rare in brewing industry, probably because the Frohberg strains are so much more efficient at wort fermentation. I don’t know if you have seen this already, but in the meanwhile, you can have a look at the text in the end of this document for some history of lager yeast: https://static-content.springer.com/esm/art%3A10.1038%2Fs41559-019-0997-9/MediaObjects/41559_2019_997_MOESM1_ESM.pdf

  10. Oh, and one more thing before I forget 🙂 Latest research seems to indicate that many Saaz strains do in fact use maltotriose.
    Here is a report of one Saaz strain using maltotriose: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5815069/
    And many of the Saaz strains that were tested here used maltotriose: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41559-019-0997-9
    So the initial reports that Frohberg strains use maltotriose, but Saaz strains do not were incorrect (from insufficient sample size).

  11. Hi Kristoffer

    Many thanks for sharing these interesting links. I’ll definitely need some time to process all this information and try fitting it into a bigger picture!

    To start with I conclude:

    With the reported ability of a number of Saaz strains to be able to utilise maltotriose, the picture regarding 19th century lagers and lager yeasts doesn’t become much clearer, unfortunately. In particular, as Hansen’s “Unterhefe 1” (CBS1513) seems to belong into that group. Could it be significant that this strain, its ability to process maltotriose, and its subsequent distribution all over the lager-producing countries was probably quite important for the narrowing down of the lager strain variability and perhaps even for a change of drinking habits?

    After an initial reading of your links and about the history of the lager strain development “post-Hansen” I also find it more difficult to imagine that they still use a Saaz strain at Pilsen. Perhaps there is another explanation for their low AA% figure.

    For the record, here are a number of the aforementioned old brewery records that Ron Pattinson has put together:

    http://barclayperkins.blogspot.com/2014/10/munich-winterbier-in-1843.html
    Munich Winterbier: AA 49-68%, average value 61%

    http://barclayperkins.blogspot.com/2017/10/munich-export-1879-1899.html
    Munich Export 1879-1899: AA 53-74%, average value 64%

    http://barclayperkins.blogspot.com/2016/07/munich-helles-in-1902-and-2014.html
    Munich Helles 1902: AA 66-76%, average value 72%, a bit higher already!

    https://barclayperkins.blogspot.com/2008/06/salvator.html
    Salvator-type Bock beers pre-1900: AA 45-66%, average value 57%

    https://barclayperkins.blogspot.com/2008/06/bayerisches-lagerbier.html
    A single dark Bavarian lagerbier (from 1865 or before): 46%.

  12. You’ve got to be a bit careful with reading too much into historical attenuation figures. For one thing they tend to not reflect final attenuation, typically the FG was recorded at racking but a bit of sugar was left at that stage to allow carbonation. Still happens in the UK with cask conditioned ales, but all beer was “cask conditioned” before tanks of industrial CO2 were available. Ron’s got some specific examples of where he has brewery records and analysis of purchased beer where there’s quite a difference in “final” gravity.

    You also have to remember that apparent attenuation in the 19th century is as much about malt as yeast, the malt wasn’t as well modified as modern malts so attenuations will look lower.

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