Keeping the German Yeast Alive

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April 22, 2013 by Prost Brewing

Among the German immigrants who made their way across the great Atlantic Ocean in order to start afresh in America was one German man, John Wagner, who diligently transported his lager yeast all the way from his hometown in Bavaria to Philadelphia.  With his precious yeast, John Wagner opened his own shop to sell what later became accredited as America’s first lager beer, brewed from his little shop in the 1840s.

America's First Lager—in Philadelphia

John Wagner spread the wealth, selling some of his rare and treasured German lager yeast to the man George Manger who used it in the production of lager on a commercial scale of the first of its kind.  Originally the beer was produced just for Germans, but it was not long before beer connoisseurs outside of the German community got word of the quality beer being brewed with the German lager yeast, and sought to obtain a taste.

From the 1850s onward, this German “lager beer” became the fashion, supplying every family dinner table.  This “lager” beer’s uniqueness ultimately resided in the yeast that sunk to the bottom, unlike much of the American beer before that was produced with the top-fermenting yeast common in England brews.

Over a century and a half later, Americans are still coveting the German yeast that has produced high quality beer for centuries.  Breweries such as Prost Brewing who source their yeast straight from Germany are doing their part to keep the German yeast alive and thriving in America, continuing on the work of such German immigrants as John Wagner.

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