In memory of Emil Christian Hansen, the sculptor Anders Jensen Bundgaard (1864-1937) made the sculpture Yeast Girl to be situated at Dagmarsgade.
Emil Christian Hansen (1842-1909)
Emil Christian Hansen was one of the most important persons in Ribe. And yet, many don’t know his name. But all know the product he was working with, fermenting yeast. Emil Christian Hansen made revolutionary discoveries in fermentation of beer, and thanks to him, it has for generations been possible to produce a stabil beer of high quality.
With French inspiration
One of Emil Christian Hansen’s predecessors was the French scientist Louis Pasteur (1822-1895). Pasteur discovered that heating up wine would make it more durable. This technique is what we know as pasteurization, which is used for production of a long number of food products.
After having worked with wine for several years, Pasteur started to study beer brewery. He had seen how German beer had become popular in France after the French-German war in 1870-71. He decided to make French beer just as good as German. It was quite difficult to brew beer and Pasteur found that it was extremely important to use the right type of yeast. In 1876 he published the book ”Etudes sur la bière” on his studies on beer. His studies showed that the type of yeast, used for beer, wine and alcohol production was unclean. He had found a cleaning method, which would make cleaner and better yeast. The method was unfortunately not without faults and the yeast continued to ”pollute” the beer. If a brew failed, it was not possible to save it.
The Danish Pasteur
However, a Danish scientist found the solution for the ”sick beer” as it was called. Emil Christian Hansen revolutionised the brewery business, when he found out that yeast could be sorted into several types and only few types were suitable for brewing.
Emil Christian Hansen was born in Ribe. He was originally a painter, but then became microbiologist and was in particular interested in yeast. He worked at the physiological laboratory at the University of Copenhagen and received the university gold medal for a report on Danish fungus for fertilisation in 1876.
His work at Carlsberg
Emil Christian Hansen wrote about 90 publications in his career, and in 1879 he wrote ”About organisms in Beer and Wort”. Most of his publications were about the biology of yeast types. Because of his big knowledge on brewery, he was hired to work at Carlsberg in 1877, and two years later he got the job as head of Carlsberg’s laboratory for physiology.
He developed e. g. Carlsberg’s bottom yeast no. 1; Saccharomyces Carlsbergensis. The secret behind good fermenting yeast was to use only one yeast stem and this method was brought into production at Carlsberg in 1883.
The new type of yeast was more stabile than those used before and the beer was of such a good quality that the beer production across the world improved in quality as well as economically.
Kristof og Kirsten Glamann: Nordens Pasteur, fortællingen om Emil Chr. Hansen, 2004.
Kristof Glamann: Videnskabsmanden og Bryggeren, Emil Chr. Hansen og J.C. Jacobsen
DR VIDENSKAB – internetartikel om Emil Christian Hansen