Actually, there are several million. Yeasts, that is. This summer we completed our transition away from filtering any of our beers. That’s why you might have noticed some haze or cloudiness in your favorite Grand Teton Brewing Company brews.
Unlike ours, the huge majority of beer sold in the U.S. is filtered and pasteurized. The yeast has been removed by filtration or centrifuge, and the beer is “cooked” to kill any microorganisms that might have gotten through the filter. That beer is, in fact, “dead” and declines in freshness and flavor from the moment it is put into the bottle.
Our Brewers’ Series and Cellar Reserve beers, often designed to lay down for a year or more, have always been bottle-conditioned. That means they have been bottled unfiltered with fresh yeast and a small dose of sugar to allow a second fermentation in the bottle. That second fermentation removes oxygen from the bottle and significantly improves the shelf life of the beer. Because the beer is “alive” with yeast, it matures and changes in the bottle, often for the better.
Impressed with the results of bottle-conditioning on our Cellar Reserve and Brewers’ Series, last year we brought the technique to our award-winning Sweetgrass APA and Bitch Creek ESB. These beers, our most popular brands in markets outside our local area, are bottle-conditioned to help them taste as fresh as possible, even after long journeys via truck.
Our wheat beers, including Howling Wolf Weisse Bier, true to style, have always been unfiltered. That means they are bottled with their original yeast. Our daily employee taste panels have confirmed that the presence of yeast in the bottles significantly improves flavor and mouthfeel, giving the beer a richer, fuller body, and can allow the beer to taste fresh as much as 50% longer than filtered beer. The yeast in the bottle is the same as the “brewers’ yeast” sold in health food stores, with all the same benefits. For more information about brewers’ yeast click here.
Our customers embraced the hazy versions of Sweetgrass and Bitch Creek. Both beers have seen unprecedented growth in the past year, with nary a complaint from our increasingly educated drinkers. This spring we went “all-in,” removing our filter from the brewery, and are no longer filtering any of our beers.
“Hey, bartender, there’s a bug in my beer!”
“Shhhh…everyone’s going to want one.”