In a strange busy-street-meeting-another-oddly section of Chicago that seems forgotten, in a windowless… lets say office, science is happening. Among rows of jugs on stir plates, flying air hoses, is a small chemlab strewn about 100 sqft is Omega Yeast Labs. The first of its kind in Chicago and the midwest. But that isn’t the focus of our short tale – it’s their hybrid saison yeast.

Far beyond my comprehension is the development and breeding of yeasts and their inability to sex one another for some sort of reason. Most yeast labs work their way around that by crafting blends, Omega has basically crafted an entirely new strain by getting two unattractive partners to mate. The two partners: the famed 3711 and notorious staller 3724. 3711 is known for it’s simply lovely pepper meets citrus, where 3724 plays a bubblegum and mild fruit. OYL-500 does both.

Honestly – it’s wonderful.

At a local homebrew club meeting he came by and sold off a heap of pitches to the masses, I missed the meeting, but went to the “lab” to pick mine up. I got one for B Hall and one for me. I slated a wheat beer for Mary’s and pitched OYL-500 at let it roll in the low 60s. Back at the next LHBC meeting, many versions of the hybrid yeast were showcased – all with impressionable heavy pink-bubblegum flavor. Not that I don’t enjoy that profile, but having a full 4 gallons made me worry.

Time passed, I bottled my version and cracked one a last week, and in a word: elegant. The other half of the batch was wb-06 (a wheat yeast) with vanilla and lavender so comparison is muddled at best; but it’s refreshing in a ‘cannot wait for 90f’ kind of way. Dry, but not sharp – I bottled it with 3vols of co2 for a punchy sparkler. The pepper is mild and more misc “spice” than anything, with a kind of nodding floral note that I just adore.

Due to its ‘newness’ and pain-in-the-ass-to-getabiltiy, it’s unlikely to become my go-to saison yeast, but it will for sure have a home in my summer saisons. OYL-500 is complex enough yet not overbearing to gain my admiration and will keep a keen eye on getting more (after I wear my collection out).

In my family we never really got a car when got our license. My sister got my great-grandfather’s car: a swaying awkward Pontiac with a statuette of Saint Christopher. A near dead CB radio sat between the driver and passenger footwells, not connected to anything but the mounting hardware. Gray interior with partial stains and a distant smell of cigarette smoke. That is until my sister got her hands on it.

She didn’t do much; somehow she managed to have a constant flow of dolphin shaped air fresheners and a white outline of a fairy. Not just any fairy, but one that took up a great deal of the angled back window, making it impossible to avoid when checking the rearview mirror.

This is where I come in. This was my car, in which I had a license but had to beg my sister to take it anywhere, a painful experience for any teenager. I didn’t have my own set of keys and she had a couple of embarrassing trinkets hanging from her keys too – a big clunky chain-gang like apparatus that made it even more clear that this was not my car.

One of these times I borrowed her car, a friend and I drove to a concert at the Congress theater. I was 16. This part of the city had yet seen the spreading fingers of the gay community, not even the lesbians had moved in yet. After the show we got lost. We found Roosevelt road. Two white sixteen year old kids from the suburbs driving around Humboldt Park then down and through the near south and parts of the west side till we finally realized we could scurry back home. We couldn’t help but laugh the whole time though – it was a cool day so the windows were fogged and the massive fairy watching over us. Laughter helped coat the fear and made easier to swallow.

So I think I owe my sister a thank you for putting that white fairy in the window.