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.

20 thoughts on “An updated brewing yeast family tree

  1. Lars Marius Garshol

    Nice work, and very interesting to see how this develops.

    What would be interesting would be to put some of the bread yeasts used in brewing into this. Suomen Hiiva, Kronjäst, Idun Blå, etc.

    The mixed group is also interesting. Which yeasts are those? The mix of beer/bread/wild yeasts on one side is interesting.

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  3. Trenton Weir

    Have any of the Mangrove Jack products been tested? I’d be very interested in learning their origins but can’t find any public data.

  4. suregork Post author

    Yes, it would definitely be interesting to see if the Nordic baking yeasts fit in with the other baker’s yeasts (that have been sequenced) in the Mixed group. As you say, its a peculiar group containing mainly baking and brewing strains.

  5. suregork Post author

    Unfortunately I don’t think any of the Mangrove Jack products have ever been sequenced. If they ever are, I’ll be sure to add them to the tree!

  6. qq

    AFAICT, Mangrove Jack strains are mostly/all repacks of other dry strains. For instance, M29 French Saison is a “beautiful” saison, M42 behaves rather like Nottingham, and M03 was withdrawn around the same time that Danstar Manchester disappeared. Now some of them may be antipodean dry strains from eg Coopers or Mauri that are not readily available in the northern hemisphere, so that could be interesting. Probably the best way to get a handle on those would be to do interdelta PCRs – it’s quick and dirty, but good enough if all you have to do is match to known other strains.

    @Lars The 1002 genomes tree in Suregork’s previous article has more bread yeasts, from memory there were two main groups (one in the Mixed group as here) but genetically they were a bit of a mess. But the implication seems to be that people were a lot more worried about brewing characteristics than breadmaking characteristics…

    There’s also a big surprise to come in one of the Fay et al homebrew yeasts that Suregork hasn’t mentioned yet…..

  7. Will

    Very interesting stuff. It is great to see more information on the possible origins of these strains. That said, I am still strongly hesitant to use this as a one-to-one substitution for many of the yeasts, given significant flavor and fermentation differences between genetically similar yeasts. For instance, the S-04 and Bedford yeasts produce largely different flavor profiles, yet share similar fermentation behaviors (flocculation, attenuation, ect). While I don’t have any experience on the genetics side, I have spent a fair amount of time comparing different yeast strains with regards to ester production and things like hop biotransformation via GCMS, for use within the brewery. Thanks for sharing.

  8. suregork Post author

    Thanks for your comment! You are correct that even though strains are closely related, they may still differ phenotypically (especially on the aroma side as you mention). The tree can still be useful for finding substitutes though, but should of course not be trusted blindly.

  9. notmyrealname

    I’d like to chime in to confirm what qq said about Mangrove Jacks and them entering the dried yeast market. Firstly, Mangrove Jacks is a product series from a large conglomerate.

    They started out life as 2 separate entities, Brewcraft ltd (homebrew company in NZ, later in Australia, then UK) and Sachetpacket ltd aka SPL ltd (homebrew in UK). They got into businesses together for along time and brewcraft relabelled themselves Imake ltd. SPL had their “manfacturing” hub in Merseyside, UK. After the owner of SPL died, Imake bought out their share and they merged to become Bevie.

    Bevie generates the Mangrove Jacks line of products and from, albeit anecdotal contacts, it has been discovered they do not have any dried yeast manufacturing capabilities themselves, they rebrand Lallemand and Fermentis (and others) into their MJ product line. So they do not offer any new yeast strains that are not already purchasable from their competitors.

    As an aside, I’d also like to point out that Lallemand and Fermentis copy each other and have simply added some of each others strains to their line. S-33 is Windsor, BE-134 is Belle Saison, F2 is CBC-1, etc.

    Another point close to my heart is the whole Coopers/Australian ale angle. As of the late 1990s Coopers were still using the tried and true English method of a dual pitching yeast. They restructured in 1999-2001 and opened a new, much larger plant at Regency Park and this coincided with microbiology work done at U of Adelaide, specifically by a F Jon Meneses. His thesis is still not “truly” public despite it being over 15 years (its not online). The outcome of this work was to put into production new, single strain brewery and homebrew yeasts respectively. I’ve been told by reliable sources (people let slip at the bar in Adelaide when inebriated) that the strains chosen from a foreign yeast bank were both English in origin.

    This is a direct quote from the Cooper site:

    ” Ac = Coopers ale yeast (our own strain, not the same as the yeast in our commercial ales, developed in-house and propagated under contract) ”

    Coopers do not have dried yeast manufacturing facilities, they outsource it. They clearly state that themselves. That contractor has long rumoured to be the AB Mauri factory in Toowoomba. Conjecture over the yeast Mauribrew 514 is long running in Australian homebrew circles and from my, albeit anecdotal experiences (bar talk with Coopers employees), AB Mauri was the contractor at some stage and could still be and Mauribrew 514 is indeed the very same “Coopers” dried strain found sold in their homebrew kits. People get tied up in semantics over Australian ale vs Mauri 514 vs the Coopers bottle yeast vs the Coopers kit yeast.

    It gets very confusing at this point so I’ll simplify.

    1) Coopers ditched their original dual-strain production yeast by 2001. If you have a bottle of Coopers from the 1990s it contains the original “Australian” dual-strain that no doubt came from England anyway.

    2) Coopers brewery bottle-conditioned beers contain their new “Australian” strain and that came from England anyway. If you get a bottle of Coopers you have their production strain.

    3) Coopers ditched their poor performing old dried yeast product from the 1990s and relaunched a new “Australian” homebrew strain circa 2001 also. This strain was also of English parentage. Reports are that Coopers production strain performs poorly when put into dried yeast manufacture.

    4) AB Mauri did at some stage hold the contract to make this dried “Australian” yeast strain for Coopers homebrew kits. They may still or it might be another contractor now. AB Mauri did however, copy this successful strain and produces it as it own Mauribrew 514.

    5) Coopers dried yeast and Mauribrew 514 ARE thus, the same strain.

    6) Coopers spreads fud all over internet forums to protect their IP so people will be confused as hell, and to stop people identifying their IP as Mauribrew 514 (confirmed personally by an ex-Coopers employee)

    7) The Coopers dried strain/Mauribrew 514 should be the famous “Australian” ale strain, as it was selected for its excellent qualities in a tough climate to brew in (It’s able to brew clean beer at 28-34, performs well in bottle conditioning, has excellent viability after years in storage, etc). It is very unlikely that White Labs copied this yeast though as the WLP 009 Australian ale product.

    8) Coopers dried yeast/Mauribrew 514 when combined with the correct Coopers LME are capable of making a homebrew product that tastes remarkably similar to their Coopers Red and Green products. The dried yeasts ability to clone those beers is one of the reasons it was chosen to replace their house strain in the dried yeast manufacturing process.

    9) WLP 009 is most likely the Coopers production strain found in their bottle conditioned product. Its Australian by name only and is really just another English ale yeast repurposed by an Australian company.

    and finally

    10) Both the Coopers house strain and Mauribrew 514 make very good beer. The Coopers house strain produces a distinctive fruity ester that smells like red apples/roses. Mauribrew 514 loses it fruitiness quickly but can make great tasting clean-neutral beer, except, its active esterase can reduce foam stability with time. (much like Fullers).

  10. WmJ

    I’ve been wondering for a while, does anyone know where WLP644 would fit into the family tree? Is it truly a wild yeast that doesn’t into any of the domesticated yeast groups or is it just an odd beer2 yeast?

  11. suregork Post author

    We’ll have to wait until someone sequences it, but my guess would be a Beer 2 yeast as it tests positive for the STA1 gene.


  12. isomerization

    I tried digging through both of these threads, but where was the consensus for WLP029 (Kolsch) and WY1272 (A Ale 2)?

  13. qq

    @isomerization – The version in the White Labs catalogue confirms that WLP029 (and WLP030) are in the WLP002/007 group, so somewhere around beer090/099.

    1272 is a really interesting one, as it’s traditionally linked to WLP051 California V which we now know is a lager yeast. I’m not aware of any sequence being published, but if you forced me to guess then I’d say it’s close to BRY-97 in the Mixed group, but that would be a real guess, <30% confidence.

    I have had a look in the new White Labs catalogue but it doesn't seem to have anything new over the 2018 version, I thought it might have WLP066 or something.

    WLP019 California and WLP072 French are current Q2 seasonal releases which I'm hoping to get my hands on, still no sign of the British Group 2's yet, other than WLP037 last year.

  14. Pierre

    Really nice figure!

    I would like to know what software you used to make this tree?

    Thank you sir.

  15. Frank van Wensveen

    @notmyrealname: “Lallemand and Fermentis copy each other and have simply added some of each others strains to their line. S-33 is Windsor, BE-134 is Belle Saison, F2 is CBC-1, etc.”

    It is interesting to note that the technical details these companies publish for these yeasts are rather different. For example, Fermentis lists BE-134 as having an alcohol tolerance of 9% while Lallemand puts it at 15. If this is the same strain, at least one of them is deliberately mislabeling their products to muddy the waters.

  16. qq

    There’s a load of new sequences just been released by the Hittinger lab, which are unblinded and cover a good chunk of both WL and Wyeast. No doubt Suregork is already on the case, but they were particularly interested in genome evolution so have tried to assign strains to species or hybrids. So we have (among others)

    Ales (S. cerevisiae)
    S-04, S-33, K-97, T-58, SafaleS-05, US-05, WB-06
    BelleSaison, LondonESB, Munich, Nottingham, NottinghamA, Windsor
    NCYC1063 & NCYC1064 – British stout yeasts
    CoteDesBlancs, EC1118, WLP715 Champagne
    (Mauribrew?) “Weiss”
    WLP001, WLP002, WLP004, WLP007, WLP013, WLP023, WLP028, WLP090, WLP099, WLP300, WLP320, WLP380, WLP400, WLP510, WLP530B, WLP545, WLP550, WLP565, WLP566, WLP570, WLP644, WLP775, WLP800, WLP838
    WY1007, WY1026, WY1028, WY1028, WY1098, WY1272, WY1318, WY1388, WY1728, WY1792, WY1968, WY2565, WY3068, WY3463, WY3522, WY3724, WY3787, WY3787_A, WY4766

    So there’s a sequence for WLP644 and LondonESB at last, interesting that WLP838 Southern German Lager, sometimes linked to Weihenstephan 308, is an ale strain like WLP800 Pilsner.
    Wyeast 1272 is an ale yeast, so definitely different to WLP051.
    1792 is a New Belgium strain that they haven’t released for years AFAICT.

    “Lagers” (cerevisiae x eubayanus)
    WLP029, WLP051, WLP515, WLP802, WLP810, WLP815, WLP820, WLP830, WLP833, WLP840, WLP862, WLP920, WLP940
    WY1187 !!!
    WY2000, WY2001, WY2007, WY2035, WY2042, WY2112, WY2124_A, WY2124_B, WY2206, WY2206_A, WY2278, WY2308
    Got to be a bit cautious in interpreting this one, we don’t know whether it’s just fragments of eubayanus genome or full “lager” hybrids. WLP029 is an example, it was confirmed as being on the WL map. And Wyeast 1187 Ringwood!!!

    We knew about WLP051 being a lager yeast, WLP515 was always a bit of a mystery but it’s no surprise to find it here, it’s very clean.

    WLP351 Bavarian Weizen is apparently cerevisiae x eubayanus x uvarum

    Abbaye, WLP500 Monastery and 1214 Belgian Abbey (“Chimay”?) are a distinctive cerevisiae x kudriavzevii hybrid – more of a wine thing, kudriavzevii hybrids.

    Really interested to see how 515, 644, 838, 1272 and London ESB fit in to the tree, and what we’re looking at in terms of genomic structure for 029 and 1187. And to see what guesses we got wrong!

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