Geographic scholarship on craft brewing has characteristically fixated on place as a lens through which to understand and valuate ostensibly “local” beer, wherein fermentation acts as an alchemistic shorthand, transmuting far-flung ingredients into a product emphatically rooted in a particular location. However, yeast tends to receive little attention in this literature, even though it is a primary agent (alongside humans) in acting on raw materials to produce beer. Defying the notion of “hyperlocal,” yeast is frequently sourced from distant laboratories, though some breweries maintain their own cultures in-house. This paper draws on existing literature, observation, and interviews with brewers to explain yeast’s absence in geographies of beer and offer ideas for how to think more productively about yeast in relation to place. Arguing that yeast is an agential, biopolitical collaborator that forms contingent relationships with humans, this work seeks to introduce the notion of “zymurpolitics,” a theorized fermentation-focused cosmopolitics.

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