History of Missing Linck
No, there is not a typo in the name of our festival. It gets its name from German immigrants Frank and Joseph A. Linck. The Linck brothers opened a brewery in Over-the-Rhine in 1855, with lagering cellars next to Findlay Market. The brewery closed in 1860, but because lagering cellars were in short supply, the Linck cellars were rented by a collection of the city's best brewers. Windisch & Muhlhauser, Christian Moerlein, Jackson Brewery, Kauffman Brewery, Sohn Brewery, and Schaller & Gerke all aged their beers in the Linck cellars. The history of the site then gets murky and the sub-basement lagering cellars were eventually sealed off and forgotten.
The Linck Brewery cellars were rediscovered by accident in 2016. This happens. It's kind of a Cincinnati thing. What made this rediscovery different was an in-tact pre-Prohibition wooden fermenting tank that had sat dormant for generations in the dark silence of these abandoned cellars. In 2017, notorious local beer historian Michael D. Morgan, Urban Artifact brewmaster and co-owner Bret Kollmann Baker, and head brewer Josh Elliott headed into the cellars, where the Artifact team collected dozens of swabs of surfaces inside the vat and its spigots. Although unlikely, Artifact was hoping to find a yeast that they could make a beer with, probably something wild. Something much more incredible happened instead.
The F&JA Linck lagering cellars and fermenter in 2017.
Swabs were placed in jars of wort as they were collected, sealed, then permitted to sit for several months. Many showed no sign of fermentation. Others were fermenting but the flavor was terrible, and some had become vile jars of black bacterial goo. A few were promising, and ONE produced something as unlikely as winning the lottery.
Three samples were sent to Omega Yeast Labs in Chicago, and the brewers at Artifact learned that they had found a saccharomyces cerevisiae -- beer yeast!
We will never know the full story of this yeast's origin. It may have been left in the tank from a pre-Prohibition brew. More likely, it may be residue from a Prohibition-era bootlegger's batch of beer, wine or whiskey mash. Regardless of the specifics, this yeast defied all odds of survival on its journey to producing the first batch of Missing Linck beer in 2019.
Mike Morgan, Josh Elliott and Bret Kollmann Baker taste mostly disgusting samples of potential yeast strains.
Missing Linck Day
Due to Linck's role in Cincinnati's brewing past, along with the mysterious nature of the yeast found in the Linck cellars, Urban Artifact decided that Missing Linck Yeast should be given to Cincinnati as a living piece of our collective history. City Councilman Chris Seelbach introduced a resolution, and City Council unanimously voted to declare June 1, 2019 Missing Linck Day in the City of Cincinnati.
Artifact then asked some of their fellow brewers to make their own, unique variations of Missing Linck, beers of any style that all use Cincinnati's historic Missing Linck Yeast. This produced the first Missing Linck Festival in 2020! It was a HUGE success, where hundreds-of-thousands of people crowded together, laughed and all individually agreed that it was the best time that any of them had at an event in their lifetimes.
OK, that last part didn't happen. Instead, there was a global pandemic, blah, blah, blah, and the first Missing Linck Festival had to be cancelled. Missing Linck Festival 2021 will occur in a toned-down, socially distanced world, but it will still be the first year when local brewers make a collection of great beers featuring the miraculously undead yeast; and the first year of bigger things to come.
In 2017, 7/79 Video Productions followed Bret, Mike and the Artifact team into the F & JA Linck lagering cellars to chronicle an unlikely attempt at harvesting yeast. As a result, the journey from a crazy idea to a great pint of beer was captured in this short documentary film.