BYO News Page

Updated March 24, 2021

Homebrew News

A Thiol Test For Beer Finally Approved

Photo courtesy of

The sulfur-containing class of compounds known as thiols have become synonymous with the tropical fruit aromas of New World hops. But they have remained shrouded in mystery due to their extremely low concentrations (ng/L) and highly reactive nature, making them difficult to assay. Using a technique used in the wine world, a team from the Research Institute for Beer and Beverage Analysis out of Berlin, Germany greatly increased sensitivity and tweaked the testing process in order to find what they were looking for . . . a way to reliably assess thiol levels in beer. Hopefully it’s time to see what we’ve been missing.

Cider Vocabulary Standardization

Thurs., June 1 Cidermaking at Cornell University's Teaching Orchard
Photo by Charles A. Parker/Images Plus

The USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) announced that they have approved a grant of $500,000 to Virginia Tech and Cornell scientists to standardize the vocabulary used for cider. Currently, definitions for criteria such as sweetness levels are set by the individual cider producer. This can mean that one cidery’s “dry” cider may actually contain quite a bit more sugar than another cidery’s. Their goal is not to dictate how different cidermakers make their beverages, but rather to have consumer’s expectations be met. This is similar in a sense to the way many in the wine industry must comply with rules when describing a newly-released wine, such as varietals versus blends.

Monitoring Sour Beers’ Progression

Photo courtesy of The Kernel Brewery

For a long time science has known the various chemicals produced during the long-term souring process using microbes. They can also identify the flavor impacts these compounds have on the unique characteristics of beers like lambics, Flanders reds, and American wild ales. But what has remained in the shadows is a comprehensive study that covers the timeline of how these compounds evolve over the course of the long-term aging process.
Work is being done by a group of scientists out of the University of California-Redlands that is mapping the progression of a broad range of organic acids, esters, and even ethanol every 2–4 weeks from several different batches from Sour Cellars based in Rancho Cucamonga, California. By observing the differing initial conditions and the ways that the beer then transforms, brewers will be able to better understand how their choices affect the downstream product. They have been tracking each batch for one year now and are getting some interesting results including how slowly this development really takes. The research is still ongoing, but their initial findings were presented at the Fall 2020 American Chemical Society’s virtual meeting. To learn more, check out:

What’s New

PBW Tablets

Five Star Chemicals is now offering their PBW cleanser in tablet form. There are two tablet sizes available in two different packaging sizes, which means brewers have four different options to choose from. The 2.5 g tablets are to be dissolved in 32 oz., or one qt. (0.95 L) water, for smaller cleaning jobs. The 10 g tablets are designed to be dissolved in one gallon (3.8 L) water. They are effective in both hard and soft water profiles and work in a range of temperatures. Learn more at

New Omega Yeast Strains

Two new ale yeast strains from Omega Yeast, Bananza and Sundew, should be of interest to brewers who are after strong ester characters. Bananza is a hefeweizen strain that has been bred to be POF- (phenolic off-flavor negative). This provides the banana esters, without the clove-like phenolics. Sundew is similar, except it is a Belgian ale yeast strain bred to be POF-. This provides the berry and stone fruit ester character, again without the spicy phenolics. Find out more at

Blichmann G4 Fermenter

Blichmann Engineering has announced the release of their new G4 conical Fermenator. They went back to the drawing board to redesign their conical from the ground up. The G4 Fermenator’s standard features include welded tri-clamp fittings, pressure-rated to 15 psi, aseptic racking arm, brushed exterior and polished interior, plus several additional features available. You can find out more at

Brewer’s Best® Kombucha Kits

A new series of kombucha recipe kits by Brewer’s Best® allows homebrewers to craft their own flavored kombucha at home. Each kit comes with the ingredients to craft one gallon (3.8 L) of fresh kombucha and is available in four flavors: Blackberry, hemp, passion fruit, and raspberry. Note that these kits do not include a SCOBY for fermentation, which needs to be purchased separately from a supplier. SCOBYs are not included since they can be reused time and again and don’t need to be started fresh each time. First time making kombucha? Each kit comes with its own detailed, step-by-step instructions for a successful batch the first time and every time.

Mangrove Jack’s Hophead Ale

Fans of the hazy, juicy style of IPA have a new strain of dry yeast to try out. Mangrove Jack’s has recently released a new strain in their lineup, M66 Hophead Ale. As the name implies, the yeast is ideal for hop-forward beers. Its combination of esters and increased aromatics from enzymatic activity means this strain should work well with New England, hazy, and fruit-forward IPAs. It exhibits medium attenuation and high flocculation. Learn more at


Needless to say, 2020 reshaped the current beerscape and how we as craft beer fans (and makers) make our selections. A new e-commerce platform called BrewScout has launched that caught our attention. They don’t actually sell beer . . . but act like a matchmaker, by pairing beer consumers with breweries that are compatible based on the consumer’s palate and the brewery’s lineup. If this sounds like something you may be interested in, check out

Minibrew Brewing Thermometer

Minibrew is now offering a brewing thermometer that can be used in both
brewhouse settings as well as fermenters. The thermometer has a 4-in. (10.2-cm) stem with an anti-glare glass face and stainless steel body. It is easily calibrated with a calibration nut. This thermometer will thread into the Minibrew’s EZ Seal Bulkhead. No other attachments are necessary. The thermometer provides accurate (±0.9 °F/±0.5 °C) reading in under 10 seconds. Learn more at

Eclipse® Hop

A new Australian hop varietal was introduced by Hop Product Australia (HPA). Eclipse® features strong citrus and pine character, specifically sweet Mandarin, citrus peel zest, and fresh pine needles. Currently, the hop is only available commercially in Australia, but HPA is saying that it will see broader distribution in 2021’s harvest, starting on the commercial brewing distribution chain. In celebration, HPA teamed up with 12 breweries and Australia’s online beer store, Craft Cartel, offering a 12-pack of different beers featuring Eclipse® hops. Learn more at

AB Vickers Aromazyme

A new exogenous enzyme released by Lallemand Brewing’s ABV division exhibits strong beta-glucosidase activity. ABV Aromazyme is engineered to push the biotransformation process, hydrolyzing the glycosidic bonds found in beer. This process liberates monoterpene compounds that are designed to increase the hop aroma and flavor complexity in the final beer. ABV Aromazyme is to be added to the fermenter and intended to be utilized with specific brewing yeast . . . what hops pair best with it is left to the brewer to decide.

The Big Book Of Cidermaking

Authors Christopher Shockey and Kirsten K. Shockey turn their attention to the world of fermented beverages in a guide to home cidermaking. With advice and step-by-step instructions, The Big Book of Cidermaking equips readers with the skills they need to make the cider they want: Sweet, dry, fruity, farmhouse-style, hopped, barrel-aged, or fortified. The authors have years of experience cultivating an orchard and have conducted many experiments producing their own ciders. This book is for any cidermaker, whether starting with apples fresh from the tree or working with store-bought juice. Cider recipes range from cornelian cherry to ginger, and styles including New England, Spanish, and late-season ciders. You can purchase a copy at bookstores or at:

InfuSsion Mash Tun update

For 2020, Ss Brewtech has updated their InfuSsion Mash Tun with TC (triclamp) ports throughout for easy integration with the rest of their lineup. They have also made changes to several key features and components such as the feet of the tun, the thermometer, and their new Pure Flow Valve (patent pending). Many of the original InfuSsion Mash Tun features remain such as the mash tun’s 5° floor slope to the center drain to eliminate dead space and 1-in. (2.5-cm) thick insulated walls and lid. To learn more, check out

Haas Hopcast

The HAAS® HopCast is a podcast that covers all the latest and greatest happenings in the craft beer industry, with a special focus on hops. Host Micah Cawley talks to innovative brewers and brewing industry experts from around the world about all the latest and greatest happenings in the industry. Episodes run about 35 minutes and they can be found at:

Upcoming Events

All-Grain Brewing Essentials Online Boot Camp with John Palmer and John Blichmann March 26, 2021

This four-hour live online workshop covers all you need to know to successfully make great homebrews using both traditional and newer all-grain brewing techniques. How to Brew author John Palmer and equipment guru John Blichmann will take you through the all-grain process from milling, mashing, and sparging before going into the boil.

Brewery Quality Control Online Boot Camp with Amy Todd May 7, 2021

Establishing and following through with a quality control program is key to the success of any craft brewery – no matter what the size of your output. Even the smallest brewery needs to run certain key tests on their beer. This can be done without taking up too much space, resources, or investment. Amy Todd of Zymology Labs will walk you through what you should be doing as a small-scale craft brewery.

Entry Deadline for the 2021 Winemaker International Amateur Wine Competition May 11, 2021

Open to all homemade ciders, meads, and wines, this is the world’s largest amateur competition of its kind. For rules and instructions to register your homemade cider, mead, or wine, go to:

Craft Brewery Start-Up Online Boot Camp with Steve Parkes, Audra Gaiziunas, and Matthew McLaughlin May 21, 2021

Steve Parkes will walk you through the steps, planning decisions, and keys you need to know to launch a commercial craft brewery. Audra Gaiziunas will discuss business plans and the key financial numbers you need to know starting up a brewery and Matthew McLaughlin will teach you the legal checklist any start-up brewery should have in hand.

Homebrew Con June 17–19, 2021

Curated exclusively for American Home-brewers Association (AHA) members, 2021 Homebrew Con will be held online June 17–19 and feature an all-star lineup of speakers. Registration is now open and discounted prices are available until May 31. Winners of the National Homebrew Competition will also be announced during the virtual event. Learn more at

POSTPONED UNTIL 2021 — In-Person BYO Boot Camps

Due to concerns about the COVID-19 outbreak, this event has been postponed. The BYO Boot Camp will now be held November 4–6, 2021 in Denver, Colorado.

Featuring an expanded itinerary with three full days of learning, two full days of small-class workshops plus a new full day of brewing seminars featuring all our expert speakers! For more information: