Updated January 29, 2019
A story that was featured in the publication Popular Mechanics struck our fancy, about a new book that Oxford University is publishing titled Humans and Alcohol: A long and social affair, which theorizes why humans can process alcohol. According to the book our ancestors, the great apes of Africa, would end up eating fruit that had fallen to the floor of the forest to meet the high demands of their daily caloric intake. Often these fruits would have started undergoing alcoholic fermentation. Our ancestors needed the energy found in the fruit and the researchers claim the fallen fruit were often the same alcoholic strength as a common small beer, about 1–4% ABV. So if only the apes that could tolerate the alcohol in the fallen fruits survived . . . well, that’s natural selection! To read more about the upcoming book: www.popularmechanics.com/science/animals/a30139147/drunk-gorillas-alcohol-tolerance/
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.
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/
BrewEssence Sensory Training Kits
Liquid-format sensory compounds that mix instantly with beer offering accurate concentrations that can be easily dosed during sensory training. Using sealed glass ampules, the BrewEssence products have excellent shelf life with little loss of concentration over time. Currently there are six distinct kits available, including basic off-flavors, fermentation, brewhouse, draught, expanded off-flavors, and comprehensive. Kits start at $79.99 and are exclusively available at MoreBeer.com
Lallemand WildBrew™ Helveticus Pitch
A ready-to-use dried strain of Lactobacillus helveticus specifically selected for its ability to produce a wide range of sour beer styles. The Helveticus Pitch is noted to produce intense citrus characteristics at warmer temperatures and can bring wort pH all the way down to 3.0. Optimal growth for beer occurs at 100 to 113 °F (38 to 45 °C) with the Helveticus Pitch and can be completed within 2 days (typically 24 to 36 hours). One 10-g sachet can be utilized for up to 1 hL (26 gallons) of wort. https://www.lallemandbrewing.com/en/united-states/product-details/wildbrew-helveticus-pitch/
Barth-Haas Group Incognito™
If you have ever worked with hop extracts, you understand the viscosity of these extracts can be a challenge. The Barth-Haas group went back to the drawing board and came up with a new variety-
specific hop concentrate they’ve named Incognito™, which is flowable at room temperature. It is currently available in Citra®, Mosaic®, Ekuanot™, Sabro™, and HBC 472 varieties and is a 100% all-natural hop product. Currently they come in 2- and 10-kg packaging, and dosing rate is recommended at 59–235 g/bbl or 2–7.6 g/gal. Maximum efficacy of the product is achieved when mixing Incognito™ with hot wort prior to or directly to the whirlpool. https://www.johnihaas.com/incognito/
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/
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/
MARCH 17 — WineMaker International Amateur Wine Competition
Open to all homemade ciders, meads, and wine. Entry deadline is March 17 for the largest amateur competition of its kind in the world. Learn more at www.winemakermag.com/competition.
March 26–28, 2020 — BYO Boot Camps
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/