Beer fanatics who know their hops may have no idea how to get their hands on brewing giant Anheuser-Busch’s bubbly star brewer, she is Yeast or is she Sargassum?

We asked two key brawling locations in London to get to the bottom of it. And, we ran into a yeast-warring couple in Manhattan, too.


The Hype

The story goes that since the 1700s, Ewell was considered one of the most important brewing regions in Britain. From its fallow periods, it became the site of the bread beer that we think of as St. James’s Tea, founder of the Modern South-East Scotland brewery Edinburgh Woolly Ale, was founded in 1833, and the founder of the London Brewery in 1849.

As a true historian, Oliver Plant — dubbed the beer town’s George Eliot for his dapper suits and French gumption — chose a series of pubs to run his beer project — including the Coal Shed where this hilarious snafu began.

Is she Yeast or is she Sargassum?

“First of all, I was teaching this anagram to my students and they couldn’t understand it, so I asked them to explain it to me,” Oliver, whose pub, The Old Goat, is across the street from Camperdown, responded when we posed the question. “My answer — definitely Yeast. It has been brewing in pubs for hundreds of years.”

On to the truth. Anshe Chung Yee (HAH-rah Tar-ee) was a resident of Somerville, Surrey in the 1880s. She first produced her signature recipe at Sugar Clutchers, in which she played the part of the friendly brewer. Her most famous beer-brewing friend was Oliver Plant, son of the famed Oliver Weed Weed, who founded the London Brewery.

In the British culture, “Yeast and Yeast-gate” is not the classic character that it is in the States — “You’d never think of YeastGate,” chuckled Hannah, Plant’s daughter.

Sargassum was invented by a Jamaican engineer named George Reynolds, who set up his brewery in Yacht Club, London, in 1912. The name is derived from the Indian vernacular word for a drink made with water that he was using to make beer.

Trevor Fitzgerald, Brit Beer Drinking Czar, told us that in his childhood, there was no discernible beer style in London. However, the change occurred when Arnold Ritter arrived in the city in 1909. “He brought a new philosophy to the industry, creating a style called Olde English Ale,” says Fitzgerald. “He made a beer in pubs based on the hops in the hops trees that were there. When George Reynolds came to London, he found Yacht Club had the coolest vintage of hops trees that he’d ever seen. It changed the city, and shaped the style of beer that we enjoy today.”