Brewing distinctly local craft beers thanks to wild yeast


Cassel Brewery

Co-founded by Mario Bourgeois, Cassel Brewery has been an integral part of the Casselman community since 2012. The microbrewery produces a range of craft beers that can be purchased on-site and at LCBO locations throughout the region.

In the summer of 2017, the brewery partnered with the Technology Access Centre in Bio-Innovation (TAC-B) at La Cité in order to launch a unique project: An Eastern Ontario wild yeast bioprospecting initiative that would lead to the creation of distinctly flavoured craft beers.

The TAC-B team successfully isolated and identified 22 yeast isolates from 5 different species, using DNA sequencing and bioinformatics techniques. Isolates from four of the yeast species that had potential brewing properties were selected to undergo chemical and microbiological characterization. These tests were done in order to determine the yeasts efficiency in metabolizing sugars during fermentation as well as their alcohol resistance rates. The isolates from the four different yeast species were then sent to an external microbrewery to produce small fermentations of each.

The project was successfully concluded in January 2018 when the four different beers were savoured during a tasting session with the research team from La Cité as well as a team from Cassel Brewery. Some yeasts were of interest to Cassel Brewery, which they would eventually like to use for further testing.

“We are privileged to have collaborated with La Cité for this type of research,” said Mario Bourgeois, co-owner of the microbrewery. “The team at La Cité was amazing and took care of every detail from beginning to end. Now we have a unique type of yeast that will allow us to create a distinctly flavoured beer.”

A team of six members from La Cité which included a professor, a project manager, a research associate and three students from the bachelors in biotechnology, as well as an external specialist, collaborated to the success of this research project.

This project was funded through a $25,000 Engage Grant from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC).