Updated November 21, 2019
2019 North American Hop Harvest
As the 2019 Northern American hop pellets hit the marketplace, we thought folks should know how the harvest fared. According to a report put out by BSG CraftBrewing, a cool and wet fall throughout the Pacific Northwest region of the United States delayed bine growth and stunted newly planted crops. Despite the challenges, the remainder of the growing season was favorable leading to a “good to very good year with decent returns on both oil and alpha.” Crosby Hop Farm reported one of the strongest harvests of Centennial in terms of both quantity and quality, so keep your eyes peeled if you’re a fan.
2019 NanoCon Wrap-Up
Hundreds of small-scale craft breweries as well as breweries in-planning came to the Pacific Northwest October 30 to November 2 for the 2nd annual NanoCon. Dozens of workshops and seminars targeted for nanobreweries took place covering business operations, brewery operations, sales & marketing, and start-ups. Attendees also had the chance to visit with sponsors and check out the latest nano-scaled equipment, ingredients, and services for small-scale pro breweries. The 2020 NanoCon will take place November 4 to 7 in San Diego and you can register early to save your spot: https://byo.com/nanocon/2020-nanocon/
Support Your Local Homebrew Shop
In case you haven’t heard, brick and mortar homebrew retail shops are on the decline in recent years in the US. Latest numbers from the American Homebrewers Association (AHA) put the number of homebrew shops at 656, down from 815 in 2015. After talking with several shop owners about the decline, most cited increased availability of craft beers in local markets as well as online sales as two of the major factors contributing to the decline. Add in the potential correction from an oversaturation of shops at its high point and even Forbes Media took note. The Forbes article also noted changing demographics as a cause.
With that in mind, make sure that you are not contributing to the decline. While the convenience of online shopping may be a short-term gain, the long term loss of a resource like a homebrew shop is significant to the hobby and brewing. November 2, 2019 was Learn to Brew Day here in the US, but make sure that you are taking every opportunity to teach the next generation of homebrewers and guide them through the world of beer, beyond the latest hot beer in the market. Over the last three decades homebrewers have helped fuel a renewed interest in craft beer across the planet, let’s make sure we continue to perpetuate this for our next generation too. So maybe this New Year. . . skip the membership to a gym and get down to the local homebrew shop, buy some supplies, and brew with friends. That sounds like a much better resolution, in our book at least.
Breweries Offer Disaster Help
Last year we covered Sierra Nevada’s disaster relief effort after several neighboring towns were destroyed by the Camp Fire. In September, Hurricane Dorian leveled two heavily populated islands in the Bahamas. Just as when Hurricane Harvey unleashed its wrath on the Houston, Texas area, local craft breweries in Florida opened their doors for locals to fill their water jugs from their water system. Over 63 breweries in Florida alone offered free water fills to anyone preparing for the hurricane to strike. Just another way craft brewers are helping make a difference. http://floridabeernews.com/2019/08/29/florida-craft-breweries-filling-water-for-hurricane-preparation/
The site for the 2020 BYO Boot Camp was announced along with a revamped schedule of events. The upcoming Boot Camp will be held in downtown Denver, Colorado from March 26–28 at the Embassy Suites. It is the perfect location within walking distance to easily explore much of Denver’s vibrant craft beer scene. New this year: The Boot Camp will be three days total, two days being small-scale, full-day workshops plus a full day of brewing talks featuring many of the expert speakers. Two- or three-day options include lunch, one full day of back-to-back brewing seminars from our experts, and a post-Boot Camp Denver-Area Craft Beer Reception Thursday and Saturday. If you have not attended a BYO Boot Camp before, hopefully this will be your year. Mark your calendars for March or sign up today at byo.com/byo-boot-camps/
LalBrew Voss Kveik Ale Yeast
Lallemand has introduced the first commercially-available dried yeast strain of kveik for homebrewers. Voss is a pure strain of Saccharomyces cerevisiae traditionally used to brew Norwegian farmhouse ales but truly suitable for a number of beer styles, including many hop-forward beers. This strain is effective all the way up to 100 °F (38 °C) and the company notes this strain, “. . . does not produce off-flavors but instead earthy, estery and citrusy notes.” Ask your homebrew supplier for the strain’s availability.
The Ultimate Guide to Homebrewing
A new book put out by the Harvard Common Press is geared for the nascent homebrewer with easy-to-follow instructions, recipes, and tips. The recipes each come with step-by-step instructions and span a wide range of categories: From popular clone recipes, to experimental beers with spices
and herbs, to historical recipes. The book is photography-heavy, making the instructions easy to follow. The book retails at $27.99 (USD) and can be found at better bookstores and homebrew shops.
Brewer’s Best® Zymosis
The folks at Brewer’s Best® are expanding their line into conical fermenters with the launch of their Zymosis stainless steel conical. Crafted using 304 stainless steel with etched volume markers, the 10-gallon (38-L) tank is perfect for batch sizes between 5–8 gal. (19–30 L). Other standout features include a sampling port and a domed and gasketed lid with spring clamps. The Zymosis features four tri-clamp ports. Tri-clamp accessories are sold separately. If you are in the market for a stainless steel conical, be sure to check this one out. www.brewersbestkits.com
Barth-Haas Hop Aroma Standards Kit
A new beer sensory kit that focuses on the various aroma descriptions provided by hops has been released by the Barth-Haas Group. Developed by their Brewing Solutions and Sensory Team, the kit is designed to help train brewers and folks in the brewing industry on the flavor attributes of hops. The kit is broken out into 12 distinct aroma vials each representing categories that comprise sensory language. Each vial is made up of food-grade compounds that were developed for smelling and not for consumption. Each kit retails at $39.99 (USD) and lasts for 6 months. www.johnihaas.com/aromastandardskit/
24 Days Of Cheer
Designed to hold standard 12-oz. (355- mL) bottles of beer, make this holiday season into a celebration each day of December with the 24 Days of Cheer from Craft Advent Calendar. Perfect as gifts for family, friends, or make one for yourself. You can mix homebrew with commercial brew, as well as any specialty drinks such as nips, cider, wine, and liquor. This does not come pre-packaged so you can be in control of the beverages. Each box is roughly the same size as a standard case of 24 bottled beers. The boxes start at $24.99 (USD), you can get 20% off by using coupon code “BYOAdvent”. To learn more, visit craftadventbox.com
The Grainfather Glycol Chiller
The glycol-chiller era is upon us homebrewers. If you are looking for precision control over your fermentation temperatures in tandem with The Grainfather conicals, you have to check this out. The Grainfather Glycol Chiller allows four independently controlled fermentations to occur simultaneously. The unit can handle cold-crashing 6 gallons (23 L) of beer down to 39–43 °F (4–6 °C) in as little as 4 hours. Unit comes equipped with insulated silicone hoses, self sealing couplers, glycol, a condensation jacket (for protection) and a stainless steel funnel to get the glycol in the unit. Additional hoses, couplers, and glycol is required if you plan to run more than one fermenter. Learn more at grainfather.com/grainfather-glycol-chiller/
The new bottle capper from Anvil Brewing Equipment features several key elements engineered to make it safe, durable, and easy to use. Some of the specialty designs include a broad free-standing base to prevent tipping and one hand operation allowing your other hand to stabilize the bottle. A magnetic head frame holds the cap in place prior to capping and the metal capping jaws provide consistent performance for years. The mast is foldable for convenient storage when not in use, it actually has a wall hanger for storage as well. The unit is adjustable for bottles up to 14 inches tall (36 cm) and an optional 29 mm (European) capping bell is available.
The Guide To Craft Beer
As of early 2019, more than 7,000 breweries are active in the United States. In The Guide to Craft Beer, the Brewers Association has broken the book into four sections, the first section covers 80+ beer styles to provide framework for the style, the second section reflects on pairing beer and food, the third section celebrates the independent craft beer community, and the fourth section is a tasting log where the reader can record 75+ tasting experiences. For more information or to purchase, visit: www.brewerspublications.com/products/the-guide-to-craft-beer
Spike Brewing Redesigned 2-in. Sight Glass
The engineers at Spike Brewing went back to the drawing board to build their new sight glass from the ground up. The new design removes the long lag bolts, which at times need adjustments to prevent leaking and are often comprised of 26 parts. The new Spike Sight Glass has only 5 parts and no tools are required to disassemble the piece. Simply twist off the knurled end. The extra thick Pyrex®glass is protected from breakage by a 304 stainless steel guard. Total length is 6-in. (15 cm) and is 25% lighter than previous sight glasses. The new sight glass retails at $60 (USD). To learn more, check out: spikebrewing.com/collections/conical-accessories/products/2-tc-sight-glass
Formerly known as the experimental #06277 then Denali, Hopsteiner has recently announced a newly-named hop variety in their lineup. Sultana™ is a mix between 50% Nugget, 25% Zeus and 25% male USDA hop parentage and its aromatic oil components combined with strong disease resistance means it may make a big impact in the coming years in the hop market. Hopsteiner notes that it leads with a strong pineapple component, with pine and citrus characteristics not far behind. SMaSH anyone? For more info, visit: https://www.hopsteiner.com/variety-data-sheets/Sultana/
Controlling your beer’s fermentation temperatures can make a world of difference in the final beer’s flavor profile. The BrewBuilt CoolStix™ is a new “low-profile” temperature control unit that accommodates several different types of fermenters including carboys, buckets, Speidel, and any fermenter with a tri clamp fitting on top. The complete kit includes a submersible pump to circulate cooling solution, a digital temperature controller to regulate flow, thermowell, tubing, and clamps. A cooler of ice water is the only additional piece required. The complete CoolStix™ kit starts at $129.99. For more info, go to: www.morebeer.com/category/coolstix.html
The Spike Nano System
Spike Brewing enters the turnkey nanobrewing kit world with the announcement of their 1-BBL system. Features include a steam condenser that removes the need to build a venting system, a UL-approved electrical panel to power the Nano System, two custom logo plates to brand your system, and a drip tray located below the 3 vessels for easy cleaning from any spills or drips. Available in both single-batch and double-batch brewhouse capacity and in both home (240V) or industrial (208V) options depending on your power supply. The double-batch system is capable of supplying over 27,000W of power. At 1 BBL, this could be used for homebrewers, pilot batches, or for a nanobrewery. To learn more system details, check out: spikebrewing.com/pages/nano
December 14 — 2019 SWFL Homebrew Throwdown
Open to the public, this event is hosted by the SWFL Homebrewers and Millennial Brewing Company of Fort Myers, Florida. There will be over 20 homebrewers pouring their beers as well as several local food trucks, vendors, live music, games, raffles, and more on hand. Ticket sale proceeds will be donated to a local charity. Homebrewers will be judged in two categories, one by professional craft brewers and one by the general public. The event runs from 4–7 p.m. You can learn more at the Facebook page for the SWFL Homebrewers.
December 15 — 4th Annual Iron Brewer Competition
The final round of judging by the public takes place at Ferment.Drink.Repeat (FDR) Brewing Company in San Francisco, California. The public will decide which of the top 5 teams from the preliminary judging round takes home the top prize of Iron Brewer 2019. Winners will get to brew their winning beer at FDR and serve it at the 2020 SF Beer Week Opening Gala. Proceeds from the competition go to support the Portola Neighborhood Association (PNA). For more information visit www.fermentdrinkrepeat.com/iron-brewer-competition
January 22 — 2020 National Homebrew Competition
Open enrollment is January 14–22 while beer registration and payments are required within 7 days after notification of acceptance. This competition is for AHA members only and cost per entry is $16. To learn more visit: https://www.homebrewersassociation.org/national-homebrew-competition/
January 27, 2020 — Early Bird Deadline
The BYO Boot Camp are being held in Denver, Colorado. Boot camps will be held March 26–28, 2020. This year features 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: https://byo.com/byo-boot-camps/
March 7, 2020 — 8th Annual Winter Warmers
The Philadelphia Homebrew Club is once again hosting their annual Winter Warmers Chili and Homebrew Competition. Whether you’re out to take home top-prize in the beer or chili categories, or just want to judge the best, be sure to check out this winter event. The competition takes place on March 7 at the Bok School on 9th Street in downtown Philadelphia. Space is limited for the homebrew competition, so be sure to check in https://phillyhomebrewclub.wildapricot.org/