The secret ingredient of our Belgian beers!
An international team of scientists has unlocked the secret of our traditional Belgian beers: a rare form of hybrid yeasts!
These hybrid yeasts combine the DNA of traditional brewer's yeast with that of stress-resistant wild yeasts. These two completely different varieties are primarily found in beers such as Trappist and Gueuze.
The new yeasts obtained have the same fermentation capacity as "traditional" yeasts, the same stress tolerance as wild yeasts, and the ability to create flavours identical to those of the latter. These "super yeasts" date back to the pre-industrial age and have adapted to the conditions of beer production over time. The researchers even believe that the wooden fermentation barrels used by Belgian brewers in medieval times allowed these new varieties to survive to the present day. Following DNA analysis of a large number of yeasts, it appears that these hybrids came from Germany in medieval times and spread to various European breweries, thanks to the popularity of Pilsner beers.
The team of scientists plans to use these discoveries to create new and better forms of yeast. As such, brewers will be able to create new tastes and brew more ecologically and sustainably, for example by limiting cooling, allowing more efficient fermentation and using local raw materials.
A discovery that explains why our beers are unique... Or at least the yeasts that go into them!