Budvar now using same yeast to make beer for over a century

Enjoying a glass of chilled beer one would hardly think of the complex biochemical process that is beer production. The prime ingredients are malt, hops, water and also yeast which helps turn sugar into alcohol and also influences the flavour of the beer. There are many kinds of brewers' yeasts suitable for different types of fermentation. But few breweries can boast having used the same kind of yeast for over a century.

The Czech brewer Budejovicky Budvar has cultivated the same stream since 1895 and, as master brewer Josef Tolar told me, it is so sturdy it easily put up with modern technologies introduced a few years ago.

"It is very unusual because just in the last several years a lot of breweries have changed production from traditional small fermenters to cylindro-conical tanks which are a type of modern big fermenters, staying tanks, vertical-oriented tanks. This fact brings about very different conditions concerning the pressure and volume of the vessel and the way of sedimentation of yeast. All such things influence the function of yeast.

"A lot of breweries by changing the technology needed to change the type of yeast. Not in our brewery. We have had good luck because our yeast has managed the changed conditions and we obtained the same product when we came from small quadratic open fermenters to cylindro-conical tanks in 1993-1995 without any problems."

Do you know where this yeast came from?

"It is not easy to say because we know from the technological notes in the brewery that the first technical equipment for cultivation of yeast - so called propagation - was installed in the 1930s. That means it was some 80 years ago. What was before, which kind of vessels, which conditions for cultivation were used, is not given in the old notes but what is very important - the type of yeast has not been changed at least since 1930 when we first used this new style of cultivation. We can suppose that the same stream, the same kind of yeast has been used here in the brewery since the very beginning in 1895."