Pasteur showed that it was as a result of the growth of yeast cells, which can feed off the remnants of dead cells, that fermentation occurs.

Under the microscope, yeast was round and plump. Pasteur, Louis (1822–1895), was a famous French scientist credited (among many other achievements) as the first person to understand the process of fermentation and the importance of microorganisms in the production and spoilage of beer. He learned about many aspects of fermentation, including the compounds that cause milk to sour.

Pasteur’s father, Jean-Joseph Pasteur, was a tanner and a sergeant major decorated with the Legion of Honour during the Napoleonic Wars. In the mid-1850s, Pasteur undertook a series of studies on alcoholic fermentation at a local distillery.

Pasteur's research into fermentation led him to the discovery that it was yeast, a living organism, that turned the beet juice into alcohol.

Louis Pasteur - Louis Pasteur - Spontaneous generation: Fermentation and putrefaction were often perceived as being spontaneous phenomena, a perception stemming from the ancient belief that life could generate spontaneously. Louis Pasteur made a few discoveries concerning fermentation as there are many different kinds. But when the alcohol spoiled, it contained a different microbe that was rod-shaped.

In 1857 he presented evidence that all fermentation is caused by microorganisms and that specific microorganisms cause specific kinds of fermentation. Louis Pasteur invented pasteurization in order to have liquids containing yeast and sugar to have a longer shelf life. He used fermentation with milk and beet-root alcohol. 4 Thus, he reached the celebrated conclusion that 'the breakdown of sugar into alcohol and carbonic acid is an action correlating with a vital phenomenon', that is, fermentation is a property of living cells.

This fact probably instilled in the younger Pasteur the strong patriotism that later was a defining element of his character.

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