Emil Christian Hansen

The Botanist Brewer

It's the birthday of botanist Emil Christian Hansen, born today on May 8, 1842.

Prior to Hansen, brewing was a volatile experiment, and batches could easily get infected with the disease. Hansen forever changed the brewing industry with his discovery of ways to separate pure yeast cells from wild yeast cells.

Hansen's method was created while he was working for the Carlsberg Laboratory. Carlsberg Labs did not patent the process. instead, they decided to publish it. They shared a detailed explanation so that brewers anywhere could build propagation equipment and use the method.

Hansen named the yeast after the lab– Saccharomyces Carlsbergensis – and samples of Carlsberg No. 1 (as it was called) were sent to breweries around the world by request and free of charge. Within 5 years, most European breweries were using Carlsberg No. 1. By 1892, American breweries, Pabst, Schlitz, and Anheuser-Busch, were manufacturing their beers with pure yeast strains.

Hansen was a renaissance man. At various points in his life, he attempted careers as an actor, portrait artist, teacher, and author, (he wrote under a pseudonym). And it was Emil Hansen who made the first Danish translation of Charles Darwin’s Voyage of The Beagle.

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Emil Christian Hansen
Emil Christian Hansen

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