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Which commercial beers (local and/or national) are bottle conditioned and still have viable yeast?

  • Also, what do commercial brewers do that renders the yeast unusable (pasteurization, filtering, too old, etc.)?

Related question about yeast culturing: http://brewadvice.com/questions/197/how-to-grow-yeast

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To whomever answers this first, I would suggest making your answer a community wiki, and separating it by region or something. – hookedonwinter Feb 16 '10 at 16:24

Just a comment. The intense privacy of brewers has faded over time as legitimate strains of mosts yeasts have been made public. Typically, the brewers who sought intense privacy would need to pasturize then bottle condition with another strain prior to distribution. Look for ales specifically, that bottle condition and are organic, made in the US. Otherwise, a good bet are smaller brewers that fit a similar profile, who rely on craft and don't mass produce. Most of the exclusive yeast strains, like those from England and Alsace that are protected would never introduce fermentables by choice.

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I'm not an expert on this by any means, given that I've never harvested, but I've read about it a bit, so I'll give an answer to get the discussion going on this interesting question. The "yeast" chapter of How to Brew touches on this subject.

You can harvest the yeast from any beer that's bottle conditioned. For instance, I think most Belgian Trappist ales have harvestable yeast. The last Chimay I had sure had a lot of sediment in it. However, I don't have a complete list and I'm not sure which, if any, filter out the primary yeast and then add a different strain for conditioning.

Another option for harvesting commercial yeast is to visit a local microbrew. Become friendly with the brewer there. He may be willing to give you some of his yeast, as they tend to produce more than they can use. I can't take credit for this suggestion. It, too, comes from How to Brew.

Best of luck!

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