It took them five years of searching the world to figure it out, but scientist have concluded that the forebearer of German lager yeast may have originated from beech trees in Southern Argentina some 600 years ago. The study is co-authored by Todd Hittinger, an evolutionary geneticist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. I wonder how many “research” trips he’s made down to New Glarus Brewing? 😉
Hittinger and his pals speculate that the Saccharomyces eubayanus yeast strain made its way from Patagonia to Germany in the 1500’s (my guess is it was stuck on Magellan’s overcoat) and made sweet forbidden love to the ale yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Their baby, Saccharomyces pastorianus has S. cerevisiae‘s proficiency at converting sugar to alcohol and S. eubayanus’s love of cold temperatures (and it’s daddy’s eyes). Finally, something good came out of immigration in Germany!
Genetic testing on the Argentinian strain shows that it matches 99.5% to the non-ale portion of today’s German lager yeast.
If this were CSI, Lt. Horatio Caine would slip on his sunglasses and say, “looks like this Bavarian is Argentinian by injection” Yeaaahhhh!