Saccharomyces Cerevisiae

At last! One of these blog posts actually clearly refers to the picture presented alongside of it! No? Well you, sir (or madam, it is impossible for me to be biased toward my readership as, at this point there are, on average, only about 10 of you) are no beer nerd! Saccharomyces Cerevisiae or S. Cerevisiae—for those who want to struggle with correctly spelling only one Latin word—is more commonly called baker’s yeast, though that is an obvious misnomer as baker’s historically obtained their yeast from local brewers.

That’s right: you like your leavened bread? Thank a brewer.

In fact, at one point in Bavarian history, your precious bread yeast almost went away entirely. Those diabolical proto-Germans almost ruined beermaking by banning the brewing of beer in the summer. S. Cerevisiae loves those warm summer days in the Bavarian country side (slathering on the sunscreen, consuming sugars, and procreating like a gremlin in a shower stall), but they can’t abide the colder months. So, those lederhosen-wearing brewmeisters called up that chionophile (see future blog post for more on this) S. pastorianus from the minors and inadvertently created the great grandfather of Budweiser and Coors Light: the lager.

I should not have to explain that that was a bad thing.

Feel free to argue the virtues of a beer that you can consume in mass volume for the visceral pleasure of intoxication, but that crap does not belong outside of a high-school kegger, or possibly a college toga party. It certainly has no place in polite company. The main problem with a lager—or a Pilsner, Dunkle, Bock, or Märzen; really, any beer brewed with this inferior strain of yeast—is that you have to drink it fast. If you do not drink it fast, it gets warm, and when this beer gets warm, it is all over.

Your traditional ale (the superior beer produced by the titular character in this blog post) has traditionally been, and in many cultures still is, served at room temperature. In fact, if you lower its temperature too far, you lose all the subtlety of flavor, and you may as well be imbibing that loathsome Bavarian cousin. This is not a place to start a beer war, though, and I have gotten slightly off topic; so, let us get back to the virtues of S. Cerevisiae. In addition to being the yeast in your bagel, S.C. (as I will henceforth refer to it as I have grown tired of looking at the title of the post to ensure it is spelled correctly) is also the yeast in your wine. That’s right baby, that red, white, or zin that you used to wash down your pasta at dinner (and drown out the screaming voices on Facebook) is the product of the same glorious microbe that gave me my golden IPA tonight.

S.C. is not only diverse in its enhancements to the human experience, it is also the coolest of all micro-organisms. Is it any wonder that it is also the most studied? S.C. was the first eukaryotic genome to be completely sequenced. In case you wondered if geneticists were beer snobs, I think this answers that question. The S.C. has also been included in aging studies for more than five decades, and, regardless of the actual findings of that research, I think that means that the fountain of youth must dispense beer. Cool—not cold—refreshing ale. Nectar of the gods with a layer of that heroic yeast floating in the bottom third of the glass, possessing a round texture not unlike holding marbles in your cheeks, the aroma of fresh grapefruit, and a tart finish.

Hold that thought; I think I am going to order another round.

By: Tim Kiester, with an alley-oop from my wonderful wife on a troublesome simile and, extensive grammatical edits provided by Laura Nelson (check out her blog; she is hilarious).

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