Yeast: The Next Local Beer Frontier

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Wild Pitch Yeast was founded in Bloomington in 2015. Wild Pitch Yeast was founded in Bloomington in 2015.

An Indiana University scientist who is also a home brewer has launched a business focusing one of beer's more geeky components: yeast. Bloomington-based Wild Pitch Yeast offers yeast strains for purchase, consulting, storage and laboratory services. Matt Bochman says his company opens the door to services that small breweries don't typically have the space or budget to access. "They can send us samples and we can, pretty quickly because we're local to a lot of these guys, give them the results they need on contamination issues, things like that."

He says having more yeast varieties, including some that are derived locally, can help craft beer makers expand their portfolio. "Brewer are mad scientists," Bochman told Inside INdiana Business Television during an interview last weekend. "They love to experiment and one thing many brewers haven't experimented with is yeast. We can find species that nobody has ever brewed with before and really up their game. It's a whole different flavor profile that we can bring to their product."

Bochman founded Wild Pitch Yeast last year after teaching a class at Upland Brewing Co. in Bloomington. A quality control manager knew of Bochman's laboratory expertise and called on him to look into a contamination issue. He says "it's been beautiful music" since he helped solve the issue. The partnership between Upland and Bochman was profiled earlier this year in our Life Sciences Indiana e-newsletter.

Bochman says there are more than 150,000 species of yeast in the wild and only a handful are used for brewing. He started the company with Rob Caputo and Justin Miller. Wild Pitch Yeast is part of the "Bicentenni-ALE" program, aimed at creating beers made with all Indiana ingredients. Bochman says "local is wherever you are," so the company can help brewers anywhere find local strains using yeast hunting kits that brewers can send in to be identified and isolated in the Wild Pitch Yeast laboratory.

In addition to Upland, the company has also worked with Bloomington-based Function Brewing. "Local is the buzzword, right? So local hops, local barley, especially local maltsters and now we can do local yeast. Why not keep the money in-state and stimulate the economy here. It's good for everybody," Bochman says.

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