CINCINNATI May 22, 2019—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 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 brewer'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 in 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.
City Council Is Introducing a Resolution Honoring Urban Artifact’s Decision To Give Missing Linck Yeast
To The Citizens of Cincinnati
Rather than holding a proprietary interest in Missing Linck Yeast, Urban Artifact is making it openly available to any commercial brewery or home-brewer who wants to brew a beer with this legacy yeast strain. The yeast will be banked and available through Omega Yeast Labs in Chicago, IL.
City Council 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.
Missing Linck Festival Will Occur Annually On the First Weekend in June
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 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.”
Missing Linck Day, June 1, 2019 Will Be Full of Events,
Including a Movie Premier
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 to 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
About Urban Artifact
Urban Artifact, a craft brewery, opened in 2015. It celebrates Wild Culture with beers artfully crafted and experiences brought to life in the taproom and music venue. Focusing on sour and wild beers, Urban Artifact has become the Cincinnati epicenter for sour beer. With a special emphasis on fruit beers, it has carved out a niche with signature Midwest Fruit Tart style focusing on balance, drinkability, and real fruit. In 2018 the brewery launched Radio Artifact, Cincinnati's only independent radio station, at 91.7 HD2 and streaming live online. The brewery, music venue, event venue and radio station are housed on the campus of the former St. Patrick Church, an 1879 building on the National Register of Historic Places.
About Bret Kollman Baker
Bret Kollman Baker holds a degree in chemical engineering from Ohio University and a degree in brewing science from the Institute of Brewing and Distilling. After working in engineering, winemaking and distilling, he co-founded Urban Artifact in 2015. He serves as Director of Brewing Operations.
About Michael D. Morgan
Michael D. Morgan is the author of Cincinnati Beer (History Press 2019) and Over-the-Rhine: When Beer Was King (History Press 2010.) Morgan is also a lawyer, an adjunct professor at the University of Cincinnati, and he serves as Curator of the Brewing Heritage Trail. Morgan has created or led several of Cincinnati's most important beer-related events, from the city’s first historic brewery tours, to Bockfest, to the Bier Garten in historic Findlay Market.
1825 Frank and Joseph Linck, sons of German immigrant Anton Linck, grow up above their father's tavern, in the Over-the-Rhine neighborhood of Cincinnati.
1830s Germans discover that yeast is a living micro-organism, previously referred to as the “magic” or “ghost” in beer. Beer-making progresses from a hit-or-miss art form to more of an exact science. This led to the development of lager and pilsner beers. They soar in popularity, offering a lighter-bodied, lighter-colored and less alcoholic drinking option. Lagers need to be fermented and aged at cool temperatures, but artificial refrigeration wouldn't become available to breweries for decades. So lagering cellars are constructed to take advantage of underground cooler temperatures.
1830 - 50 German immigration to Cincinnati explodes. By 1850, roughly one-third of the city population is of German origin. Four German-language newspapers thrived. Where you have Germans, you have brewing.
1855 F. & J.A. Linck Brewery builds lagering cellars on Race Street in Cincinnati, near Findlay Market (which itself opened in 1852 and continues to operate). It was the height of Cincinnati brewing, with 30-some breweries in operation.
1860 The Linck brothers close their brewery.
1863 – 1873 Several different breweries enter into a joint lease on space that includes the Linck lagering cellars: Christian Moerlein, Conrad Windisch, the Kliener brothers (of the Jackson Brewery), John Kauffman, George Klotter, George Sohn, Joseph Schaller and the Koehler brothers (predecessor to the Hudepohl Brewery).
1920 – 1933 Thirteen years of prohibition coincide with the rise in popularity of the motor car. Many lagering cellars were paved over to make parking lots; others were sealed off as obsolete.
2016 Model Group discovered the sealed F. & J.A. Linck Brewery lagering cellars while renovating 1818 Race St. The cellars contained an intact pre-Prohibition era fermenting tank.
April 2017 Urban Artifact, Michael Morgan and 7/79 Video production crew descend into the lagering cellar to find the vat and collect 60 scraping samples.
April to July2017 Urban Artifact ferments several dozen samples of yeast scraped from the vat and its surroundings.
July 2017 Fermented samples are tasted. The three most promising ones are shipped to Omega Yeast, in Chicago, for testing and DNA analysis.
March 2018 Omega Yeast ascertains one of the samples to be a previously undiscovered strain of brewer's yeast. (“Undiscovered” meaning that it has not been identified and catalogued by modern yeast labs.)
May 2018 Urban Artifact begins brewing beer with the unique strain.
November 9, 2018 Limited release of a test batch of Missing Linck occurs at Urban Artifact, Cincinnati.
May 30, 2019 Cincinnati City Council resolution recognizes the discovery of Missing Linck Yeast and Urban Artifact’s decision to make it available to all local brewers.
June 1, 2019 Launch of first full batch of Missing Linck, and birth of an annual beer festival.