Students craft new brew with major beer companies

UW-Madison students are collaborating with Wisconsin Brewing Company and Heineken to create new beer.  

A group of students is collaborating with Heineken and Wisconsin Brewing Company to create a beer out of a newly discovered strain of yeast.

In 2011, UW-Madison genetics professor Chris Todd Hittinger helped discover and identify one of the parents to Saccharomyces eubayanus, a modern lager yeast, in Patagonia, Argentina. He later found the first known strain of S. eubayanus in North America, at the Indian Mound Park near Sheboygan, Wisconsin.

S. eubayanus and another strain of lager yeast create a cold-brew lager together, something Heineken has taken interest in. The Dutch brewing company has already created a beer called H41 Patagonia with S. eubayanus, part of the Wild Lager limited edition series.

Due to Heineken’s close relationship with the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, they have agreed to work with Wisconsin Brewing Co. and Campus Craft Brewery, including UW-Madison students in the development of the first Wild Lager produced in North America.

“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.”

The experimental process involves students working with a brewmaster at the Wisconsin Brewing Co. to develop and test their recipes. Their  ultimate goal is to brew a final product and distribute it on a large scale, including to places on campus such as the Wisconsin Union. 

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