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Letter from the President
By Chris White

Id like to tell you about the new bacteria program at White Labs and the possibilities it creates for you as brewers. But first, a little background. As brewers you know all too well that bacterial contamination can create unpleasant sour tastes and can ruin your beers. However, some styles of Belgian beers are highly prized for their sour or lactic acid flavors. Many of these styles are fermented in open vessels with wild yeast strains and bacteria.

While we can't help you create that ancient, cobwebbed, and wholly wonderful environment of a small Belgian brewery, we can help you make beers with similar flavors using our bacteria/other yeast program.

This has not been a part of our operation in the past because we have strived to keep bacteria and wild yeasts as far from the lab as possible. But our interest in the bacteria/other yeast program grew as more and more brewers requested them, in part because of the rising interest in Belgian styles. We built a lab to grow these bacteria/other yeast strains and redoubled our efforts to acquire these unique strains.

We began obtaining these strains at the start of 2004 from yeastbanks in the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and the United States. Our main focus is unique Brettanomyces strains, because these allow brewers to make interesting Belgian-style beers. Brewers have been making these styles with our other yeast strains such as Trappist Ale (WLP500), Belgian Wit (WLP400) and Belgian Abbey (WLP530).

The Brettanomyces strains allow brewers to make these beers even better by giving them greater complexity. Many times brewers who request bacteria/other yeast strains have experience using them. If not, our staff will be happy to assist and answer questions. Call 1-888-5-Yeast-5 for more information about the bacterial program.

We have a similar bacteria/other yeast program in place for wineries, and it has been well-received by that particular community. In fact we had so many requests for wine bacteria that we had to delay the start of the beer bacteria/other yeast program until now. In our next issue of CBQ, we expect to have an article from an award-winning brewer who has experimented extensively with the kinds of strains we have discussed in this column. (Find the article here). I think you will learn a lot of practical advice in that story, so stay tuned for the next issue.

Chris White is President of White Labs Inc. and is a chemistry and biochemistry lecturer at the University of California, San Diego. He has a Ph.D in biochemistry. Contact him at