Brewers Make Wort, Yeast Makes Beer…

Brewers make wort, yeast makes beer, as the saying goes. And nothing illustrates it like the story of Trommer’s Evergreen Brewery in New York, which survived Prohibition only to fall foul of the deterioration of its yeast.

In 1949, New York brewers went on strike for 81 days. Trommer’s Evergreen Brewery, based in Brooklyn’s “Brewer’s Row” (where 58 breweries occupied a 12 block stretch in the late 19th century) was hit badly, just like its neighbours. Beers like Budweizer and Blatz (later sold to Pabst) were shipped in from the Mid-West and, by the time the brewers went back to work, the public tastes and familiarity meant many established regional brands struggled to get back in the game.

Trommer’s, with its commitment to “all malt” brews wasn’t only competing against Budweiser and its adjuncts, it had a more serious problem: during the strike, workers neglected the in-house yeast strain and it died out. Once production re-started, the new yeast didn’t deliver, the beer didn’t taste as good and Trommer’s was out of business by 1951. The brewery was bought by Piel’s, which continued making Trommer’s until the early 1960s.