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by Liz Miller, Feast Magazine, Source

Ten years ago, brewers were pretty limited when it came to liquid yeast for beer production, because only a few big companies supplied the majority of breweries in the U.S. At these massive operations, large batches of yeast are propagated in a lab and often sit in refrigerators or walk-in coolers for long stretches of time before arriving at a brewery; as a result, the quality from one batch to the next can vary, which in turn impacts the beer it goes into. When Lance Shaner and Mark Schwarz founded Omega Yeast in Chicago five years ago, they hoped to offer brewers a better, fresher option – and more varieties of it. Today, Omega’s team of microbiologists, homebrewers and professional brewing staff work out of the Chicago office and lab, where specialized propagation methods are used to generate both traditional and new yeast strains. More than 80 strains are available, ranging from liquid yeast for classic Bavarian wheat ales to exclusive Norwegian and Lithuanian strains previously only used by veteran homebrewers. Last fall, Omega expanded to St. Louis, opening up shop in the Shaw neighborhood with a team of marketing, customer service and business professionals. As the largest liquid yeast supplier in the Midwest and one of the top in St. Louis – clients include Side Project Brewing, Wellspent Brewing Co. and Perennial Artisan Ales – Omega wants to make further inroads with the professional and homebrewing communities in Missouri. Schwarz, who is based out of the Shaw offices and lives nearby, eventually hopes to turn the space into a hub for craft-beer bottle shares and industry events.

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