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Under the Microscope: Brewing a Sense of Place with Wild Yeast

What does “local” taste like? Ask a microbe. From clean lagers to funky farmhouse ales, capturing yeast from your brewery’s backyard can lead to distinctive products that belong to their locale.

Don Tse Jun 27, 2022 - 11 min read

Under the Microscope: Brewing a Sense of Place with Wild Yeast Primary Image

Photo: Matt Graves/

Much has been written about terroir—about conveying a sense of place in our food and drink—and perhaps no beer ingredient can do that as palpably as yeast can.

Locally grown malt and hops can reflect their soil and weather, but they are also just local versions of the same varieties grown elsewhere—like cover bands riffing on widely popular tunes. Yeast, on the other hand, have evolved over millennia to the local flora. They are unique to their home environment; they represent original music.

Here are a few ways that breweries are creatively applying these yeasts, often in unexpected ways, along with some pros and cons to consider in your own brewery.

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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.