Madison brewery, UW-Madison students brew first North American wild lager

Group brewing with new strain of yeast
Madison brewery, UW-Madison students brew first North American wild lager
Photo courtesty of Madison Magazine

Wissconsin Brewing Co., Heineken and University of Wisconsin-Madison students are partnering to brew the first wild lager brewed in North America.

According to a release, the beer will be brewed with a strain of yeast discovered by UW-Madison professor of genetics Chris Todd Hittinger and his students. Hittenger helped discover and identify one of the parents of the modern lager yeast, Saccharomyces eubayanus, in 2011 in Patagonia Argentina.

The yeast paired with another yeast creates cold-brew lager.

Hittinger found S. eubayanus for the first time in North America at Indian Mound Park near Sheboygan.

Since its discovery in Patagonia, Heineken took an interest in the strain of yeast and developed H41 Patagonia, the first in Heineken’s Wild Lager limited-edition series.

With Heineken’s experience and relationship with the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, the company has been helping Wisconsin Brewing Co. and Campus Craft Brewery.

Students have been working for five years with UW-Madison food science students in an independent study course. The students select a style and develop a recipe. The beer ultimately is brewed at commercial scale and distributed.

“What’s new here is that we’re actually pushing the boundaries of knowledge by testing these new strains that undergraduate researchers in my lab have isolated from nature,” Hittinger said. “This is a new type of product.”