Well, the plot thickens day by day. I contacted Siebel the other day as to why they removed the old list of cultures that they provided on slant. Well, I learned that major things are on the horizon. It appears that Lallemand is gearing up to provide a host of new yeast services. While most of these services are out the question for most amateur brewers due to cost, for guys like me who are also amateur brewing scientists with little to no bounds, it is welcome news. Lallemand has the resources to propel craft brewing and amateur brewing to new highs and they appear to be eager to play in this space.
With that said, they were interested in talking to me because I have acquired strains from Siebel in the past (I receive periodic messages from Siebel and Lallemand). For me, the most interesting new information is that instead of sending me the old strain accession number list with brewing descriptions as I had requested, they sent me a spread sheet that among other things allows the reader to ascertain when a yeast culture was first recorded in Siebel bank. I do not know how hold it is, but BRY-96 has a "reception" date of 4/1/1967. That predates the G.W. Lange's deposits in the ARS NRRL. I am assuming that that means that Siebel has been in possession of the culture since at least 1967 (BRY-96 was labeled as being from a former brewery on the East Coast in the old Siebel culture description). If we look at Ballantine's history, we see that 1967 was tumultuous year, a strike followed by an anti-trust suit against big lager brewers for attempting to destroy their business (https://sites.google.com/site/pballantineandsons/ballantinetimeline2
). Needless to say, banking their culture would be insurance if they had to start all over. I am more convinced than ever that BRY-96 is a Ballantine isolate. Now, the question is what isolate? What is interesting is that the spread sheet labels BRY-96's fermentation progress as slow. That matches BRY-97 more than Wyeast 1056, WLP001, US-05, and Chico from the bottle. Now, the question is, did Sierra Nevada change how the culture behaves via selective pressure by cropping from conical fermentation vessels? Man, we are in the golden age of brewing yeast. Between genetic sequencing and the culture collections looking to get into the game, what we see today is for what I have been waiting for almost thirty years.