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Lager Yeast: New Developments, New Opportunities

While we have a plethora of options for ale yeast, lager strains have been few and relatively similar. That’s already changing thanks to recent research, and brewers who rethink lager may be the ones who stand out in a tightening market.

Don Tse Feb 27, 2023 - 14 min read

Lager Yeast: New Developments, New Opportunities Primary Image

Photo: Matt Graves

“Since lager yeast first appeared, it has become highly domesticated,” says Aleksei Titov, technical sales manager in Estonia and Russia for Lallemand Brewing—and one of Lallemand’s internal lager gurus. Saccharomyces pastorianus is rarely found in the wild, and its heavy use in brewing has resulted in a set of strains with relatively little genomic diversity.

“While ale yeast strains work in a broad spectrum of conditions and produce a broad variety of flavors, all lager strains work in a narrower set of conditions and produce a [narrower] set of sensory results,” Titov says.

Thus, there have been few new developments in lager yeast—but that just means the area is ripe for innovation. Some of that is already happening.

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Don Tse is an internationally recognized beer writer and beer judge, working from his home base in the middle of North America’s barley belt.