Recent analysis work at Brewlab has further developed the Flag Porter story and provided more information on what beers were like in Victorian ages.
The Porter Yeast
Brewlab has maintained the Flag Porter Yeast since its first discovery. Recently we conducted a DNA analysis of the yeast and found that it is a Debramyces species.
These yeasts are commonly associated with natural fermentations and are part of the natural progression of microbial communities. Debramyces develop later in beer fermentations than Saccharomyces and may be considered a maturation yeast. We are currently characterising the yeast under different growth conditions to see how it may be used to make different strengths of Flag Porter.
Many of the classic Victorian beers were produced using malt from Chevallier barley.
This variety was first identified around 1830 but ceased being used around 1920 because its tall stems were unsuitable for mechanical harvesting. Shorter varieties of barley were selected but had different features so changing the character of beer.
Recent work at Brewlab in collaboration with the John Innes Research Centre in Norwich has investigated the features of Chevalier using seeds from the plant breeding archive.
PhD studies have indicated that Chevallier malt is very resistant to modern plant diseases so making it very suitable for organic production. A trial crop of Chevallier has been used in the brewing of the most recent batch of Flag Porter so providing more evidence of authenticity.
Chevallier still has difficulties with mechanical harvesting and a long term research project is underway to cross Chevallier with short stem modern varieties. Suitable crosses with the combined features of the two malts will be isolated for further trials with the intention of developing a variety with Chevallier’s quality and a suitable ease of production.
In the meantime small brews of Flag Porter using Chevallier malt from the 2015 crop will be conducted for specialist sales. We also hope to investigate using the yeast for a wider range of beers so that Flag Porter may sail onwards.