Updated March 27, 2019
Beech tree galls found in the forests of Patagonia where the missing parental yeast species to modern lager strains was discovered.
Research delving into the origins of modern lager yeast strains and why they have a preference for colder environments has opened up a new world of scientific exploration. In 2011 a team of scientists from the University of Wisconsin-Madison announced that lager yeast (Saccharomyces pastorianus) was actually a cross between S. cerevisiae (ale yeast) and S. eubayanus (a wild yeast). The same team of scientists later discovered that it is the mitochondria from the wild S. eubayanus that has the cold preference. For those that don’t remember their high school biology class, mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell. The mitochondria contain its own set of DNA, making it independent from the rest of the cell. In a paper published in Science Advances early in 2019, the team removed the mitochondria from several different Saccharomyces yeast varieties. This left them a blank slate to build hybrid yeast types. The scientists were able to cross these yeast cells with the various mitochondria types. The mixed offspring with various parentage cells and mitochondria were able to thrive at a wider range of temperatures than their parent organisms. Not too surprisingly, they found that leaning more heavily on the S. eubayanus allowed a stronger cold-tolerance while more S. cerevisiae parentage meant better performance in warmer temperatures.
While you may not be seeing new strains with a hybridized yeast-mitochondria mix coming out from White Labs or Wyeast this year, it is something to keep track of. There is a lot of brewing potential if a clean, crisp lager could be brewed faster and at warmer temperatures thanks to a trick played on their mitochondria. To read more, check out the paper at http://advances.sciencemag.org/content/5/1/eaav1869
Sierra Nevada Resilience Butte County Proud IPA
November, 2018 brought about California’s deadliest and most destructive wildfire to date; known as the Camp Fire due to its origins on Camp Creek Road. Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, based in Chico, California narrowly avoided the destruction that affected neighboring Butte County towns like Paradise and Concow. In response, the brewery created Resilience IPA, which 100% of the proceeds will go to support friends, employees, and neighbors affected by the Camp Fire via the Sierra Nevada Camp Fire Relief Fund. You can donate here. In addition, Sierra Nevada made a call out to the greater brewing community to support the effort. In response, over one thousand breweries and countless homebrewers have used the recipe provided by Sierra Nevada to brew their own Resilience IPA with proceeds going for the relief effort. The rebuild process will take years, so while the immediate threat is over, every dollar counts. The beer will be available in late December according to Sierra Nevada or you can brew a batch yourself. Find the recipe here.
Which came first, the chicken or the egg?
A recent study published in Nature Metabolism, found a possible explanation of why certain cellular organisms such as Saccharomyces cerevisiae, produce ethanol. According to scientists at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands, the reason may actually lie in the fact that it is a way to slow energy production, sort of like an engine governor. When placed in a nutrient-rich environment, such as those found in brewer’s wort, a yeast cell heads into hyper-drive metabolically speaking. When energy production exceeds a certain level, the yeast cells will switch from respiration to fermentation, effectively slowing down energy production.
This self-regulated “safety cap” on the cell’s metabolic rate means that instead of taking each 6-carbon sugar ring and fully respiring the sugar down to 6 carbon dioxides, we instead get 2 ethanol and 2 carbon dioxide molecules. This is a lot less energy efficient (19 times less efficient) for the yeast cell . . . but this, biologically speaking, may actually be a good thing for the organism. What the scientists theorize is that this excess energy would stir up too much motion within the cell, effectively harming key cellular functions acting within the cell. Meanwhile, ethanol production by yeast has traditionally been viewed as a biological advantage, as ethanol is lethal to many competing organisms. So, the question then is, why did this ethanol-producing mutation occur? Was it for cellular safety reasons or was it for biological advantage? Maybe a little of both — but to read more about the study, visit: www.nature.com/articles/s42255-018-0006-7
BrewMagic® Premier All-Electric Brew System
SABCO Craft Equipment has been building brewing systems for 3 decades and now has an all-electric system in their lineup. The new BrewMagic® Premier 20-gallon (76-L) RIMS system is turnkey and requires (240 V) power supply. Available in both 30 amp and 50 amp versions and capable of brewing 5 gallons (19 L) to 18 gallons (68 L), it’s designed for homebrewers. Optional network connectivity allows operation to occur from phone, tablet, or PC. There is automated temperature control on all 3 vessels.
The new system completes a full suite of new RIMS brewing systems released by SABCO this year — The 20-gallon (76-L) Premier, the 30-gallon (114-L) Pilot, and the 56-gallon (212-L) Pro. Additional details and all of the system features and specs can be found at brewmagic.com.
Brewing beer doesn’t need to be complicated. BYO’s “Techniques” columnists Drew Beechum and Denny Conn have once again teamed up to teach brewing in its basic form. Simple Homebrewing peels away the layers with tips and tricks on topics such as water adjustments, working with adjuncts, and making wild beers. Denny Conn is a nationally–ranked Beer Judge Certification Program judge and served on the American Homebrewers Association Governing Committee for nine years. Several commercial breweries in both the United States and Europe have brewed his homebrew recipes. Drew Beechum is the author of The Everything Homebrewing Book, The Everything Hard Cider Book, and co-authored Experimental Homebrewing and HomeBrew All-Stars with Denny Conn. They co-host the Experimental Brewing Podcast. For more information or to purchase, visit www.brewerspublications.com.
Blichmann Engineering Modular Power Controller
For brewers that are looking to get into electric brewing or to upgrade their boil control capabilities, the folks at Blichmann Engineering have crafted a controller for you. Available in a 240 V (7200 W) and 120 V (2400 W) model, this power controller is designed for boil kettles where temperature control is not needed. Utilizing linear power control allows for 0–100% optimization of the potential power of the immersion heater. This unit was designed to be plugged into the BoilCoil, but works with all manufacturers’ immersion heaters and can control up to 4 additional relays if more than one heating element is used in the kettle. Find out more at
Formerly known as HBC 438, the Sabro™ hop is the latest release from the Hop Breeding Company. Bred from wild hops indigenous to the American Southwest, Humulus lupulus var. neomexicanus. A unique brewing hop with notes of tangerine, coconut, tropical fruit, and stone fruit, but some tasters note cedar, mint, and cream in the mix as well. These are available for purchase at better homebrew shops and several online vendors. Or keep your eye out for a commercially-brewed beer with them in order to give this unique hop variety a taste. For more information on this variety, check out the “Hot New Hops” article found in the March-April 2019 issue.
May 7 — National Homebrew Day returns with events hosted throughout the country on the weekend leading up to the official day. Be sure to brew or at least raise a homebrew to the occasion. Check in with your local homebrew shop or visit: https://www.homebrewersassociation.org/aha-events/national-homebrew-day/
June 27–29 — Homebrew Con 2019 takes place in Providence, Rhode Island this summer. The 41st annual convention will feature over 70 seminars and 50 homebrew clubs. You must be a member of the American Homebrewers Association to attend. To learn more, visit: https://www.homebrewcon.org