This looks awful. There seems to be a lot of relevant questions unanswered by the article.
A lot of questions indeed. Going to need to see how this plays out
How did they determine that the White Labs yeast was the issue? Surely Left Hand wasn’t the only brewery buying that particular strain of yeast from White Labs, right?
There’s plenty of legalese fluff, but the actual complaint is fairly readable. The approximate TL;DR is that a bunch of facilities tested the beers made with the yeast, and beer made in the same kit from different yeast, and only the White Labs yeast brews ended up with the positive tests for diastaticus, gushers and off tastes. I didn’t see any mention of testing the actual yeast in question.
That’s the oddest thing to me about this whole thing. Wouldn’t it have been tremendously easier (and MUCH more damning evidence) to just test the yeast directly, instead of testing beer made from it, and all the diligence to clean everything? Or is there some reason it’s not easy to do that? If you only test beer made from it, it seems like there would be no way to prove beyond doubt that the unwanted yeast wasn’t introduced by your process/equipment.
What if you don’t have any of that particular yeast left because you used it all? If it just affected some batches of Left Hand, it probably also was only contained in a small part of the yeast provided by White Labs. Also, the time line is not so clear, only that the complaints came in through 2016 and that the discovery and cleaning was done in September and October of that year.
I guess I presumed the testing was going on while they were still actively producing tainted batches and thus had potentially tainted yeast to test. But you’re right, that’s not clear, so if this cleaning/testing was happening only after the presumed tainted yeast was long gone, they wouldn’t have that option. In which case it sure seems like it would be a tricky case for them to win.
And was this a yeast that the lab banked exclusively for the brewery or was this a commercial yeast available to any brewery (in which case there were/are other breweries with samples)?
So I guess they are going to buy from someone else in future right? Since White Labs isn’t going to sell them anything ever again after this???
Looks like it was San Diego Super Yeast, there are other brewers using the yeast and things could get worse.
“Following the re-starting of the brewery Left Hand says it again ordered yeast from White Labs, and conducted tests on the sample and found that it was again contaminated with Diastaticus.”
So that suggests they did have the ability to test the yeast directly after all. If “the sample” here refers to testing the yeast rather than just beer made from it, that would seem to put them in a very good position on this lawsuit. But yeah, I’m curious if other brewers will join LH on this, because if nobody else that used the same yeast had issues, that sure would be eyebrow-raising.
The story unravels further: