Cincinnati brewery Urban Artifact is releasing a beer that is a first in the annals of brewing history: It is being made from yeast harvested from a pre-Prohibition fermenting tank in a previously sealed-off 164-year-old lagering cellar of the long-defunct F. & J.A. Linck Brewery.
The beer is named “Missing Linck” in homage to the Linck Brewery as well as the connection that this discovery makes with our pre-Prohibition past. Missing Linck was released in a small test batch last fall. The brew is a light colored ale that permits the flavor of its ancient yeast to shine through, producing a distinct, flavorful brew with a crisp, dry finish.
Now, on Saturday, June 1, 2019, Artifact will is releasing the first full batch of Missing Linck. The beer will be tapped at a brief ceremony held at 4:00PM at Urban Artifact Brewery, 1660 Blue Rock St., Cincinnati 45223. Missing Linck will then be available on tap and in cans while supplies last.
This is an unprecedented event. While beers have been recreated by analyzing and reconstructing the DNA profile of a found bottle of old beer, we believe that this is the first time that a modern-day beer has been made from original rewer’s yeast, of unknown origin, scraped off a fermenting tank that dates back to before Prohibition (1919) and may be up to 164-years-old.
“It would be hard to overstate the statistical anomaly of this project,” says Bret Kollmann Baker, Director of Brewing Operations at Urban Artifact, where he is also co-founder and co-owner. “Finding a vat that’s this old and still intact is something I never imagined could happen. But on top of that, harvesting a yeast off of it that would prove to be viable—it’s unfathomable.” He adds, “It’s highly unlikely anything like this could happen again.”
“The last bastion of terroir n beer is yeast,” says Kollmann Baker, who holds a degree in chemical engineering; and Missing Linck Yeast provides a unique opportunity to taste flavors from our distant brewing past.
Rather than holding a proprietary interest in Missing Linck Yeast, Urban Artifact is making it openly available to any commercial brewery or home-brewer that wants to brew a beer with this legacy yeast strain. The yeast will be banked and available through Omega Yeast Labs in Chicago, IL.
Councilman Christopher Seelbach is introducing a resolution to honor the discovery of the yeast and the decision to make it readily available to regional brewers. The resolution will be introduced for adoption by Cincinnati City Council at its regularly scheduled meeting on Thursday, May 30, 2019 at 2:00PM.
Not only is Urban Artifact making Missing Linck Yeast available to the regions’ brewers, Artifact is inviting the Greater Cincinnati brewing community to participate in an annual festival that features beers made with the legacy yeast. Starting in June 2020, Urban Artifact will host an annual beer festival that will feature local breweries releasing beers brewed with Missing Linck Yeast. Other than use of the historic yeast strain, brewers will be free to brew the styles and variations of their choosing. This will allow all of the region’s breweries (that choose to participate) to play to their individual strengths and brew a wide variety of Missing Linck-inspired brews.
No other city in America has a beer festival centered around the use of a legacy yeast strain that is unique to that city. However, Missing Linck Festival does
have some historic precedent. After the demise of the F. & J.A. Linck Brewery in 1860, its lagering cellars were leased by a collection of influential Cincinnati brewers, including Christian Moerlein, Conrad Windisch, John Kauffman and the Koehler brothers (whose brewery would later become Hudepohl.) “Missing Linck’s pedigree may be royal,” jokes Michael D. Morgan, adding: “Although these were rival brewers in a competitive market, they shared these cellars to both their individual and mutual benefit. Missing Linck Festival will celebrate the past and present comradery of the local brewing community.”
Sealed-off lagering cellars have been rediscovered under Over-the-Rhine buildings in the past, but nothing like the wooden fermenting tank has ever been found. It is an anomaly, and it may be unprecedented nationally. Urban Artifact specializes in beers made with wild-caught yeast, and is known for bringing old techniques into modern-day, hyper-local brewing. Kollmann Baker was skeptical that the team from Urban Artifact would find a viable, pre-Prohibition yeast strain. “Yeast is a living organism,” Kollmann Baker explains. “It needs to eat. Some can live on wood sugar, but brewer’s yeast can’t. So, there was a great possibility that our project would end there.”
Nevertheless, attempting to harvest yeast from a pre-Prohibition fermenting vat promised to be an interesting experiment regardless of the outcome. So, 7/79 Video, an award-winning production company, agreed document it. 7/79 Video filmed the search for yeast, the process of testing the roughly 60 samples taken in the lagering cellar, the trip to Omega Yeast Lab in Chicago to learn the results of DNA testing, and the release of the test batch in the fall of 2018. The approximately 20-minute documentary short entitled “Wild Yeast And The Missing Linck” is the result. A short, rough cut of the film was shown in the fall.
“Wild Yeast And The Missing Linck” will be shown in its full, final form for the first time at Urban Artifact on Saturday, June 1, 2019 at 7:00PM.
Other events of the day include:
● Missing Linck will be tapped at 4:00PM in a brief ceremony.
● Historic breweriana and antique beer steins will be on display and for sale in Artifact’s sanctuary between 4:00PM to 6:30PM.
● Meddling With Nature will also be displaying their unique collection of artwork between 4:00PM to 6:30PM.
● “Everybody’s Beer Class” will be conducted by Michael D. Morgan, UC Beer Professor at: 4:30, 5:15 and 6:00PM. (This is a basic intro. to beer appreciation. More about the format can be found at www.everybodysbeerclass.com)
● Tours of Urban Artifact will be conducted by Tyler Hill, Urban Artifact Event Manager at: 4:30, 5:15 and 6:00PM
● Panel discussion about the history of the F. & J.A. Linck Brewery, the discovery of the yeast, and the production of the documentary will occur at 7:00PM, prior to the screening.
● “Wild Yeast And The Missing Linck” will debut at 7:15PM
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