BYO News Page

Updated August 27, 2020

Homebrew News

Malt’s Nitrogen Levels Affect Esters in Beer

Photo courtesy of Mecca Grade Estate Malts

While this finding isn’t 100% new, a recent study by a group from the Animal Science, Foods and Nutrition department at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Illinois looked at an array of base malts to find how nitrogen levels affect the ester levels in the final beer. What they found confirmed that higher nitrogen levels in malt indeed leads to more esterification reactions during fermentation. The group looked at the total nitrogen (TN) level and free amino nitrogen (FAN) levels in both wort and beer from several maltsters found across different geographical regions of North America. They then fermented the resulting wort with SafAle S-04 and measured the ester levels in the final beer. What they found was a linear correlation between the TN levels in the malt and key esters found in beer. All the malts tested fell within an average range for TN as too high nitrogen levels can be detrimental to the beer . . . hence why nitrogen-rich North American 6-row is often mashed with low nitrogen adjuncts. Canada is well known to produce 2-row barley malts high in TN but within the acceptable range . . . just one more consideration for brewers to think about when they look at their malt’s spec sheets.

Virtual Hop Harvest

Photo courtesy of Yakima Chief Hops

The 2020 Yakima Chief Hops (YCH) Virtual Hop Harvest is a month-long, online event available for free and to the public, bringing beer lovers, homebrewers, and international craft brewers together from all over the world. Every weekday in September 2020, YCH will be offering multiple webinars and online tours in various languages and time zones.

From technical brewing related seminars on hop usage and recipe formulation, to behind-the-scenes tours of hop farms and production facilities, YCH’s Virtual Harvest event is for brewers and beer lovers of all levels. For those that have never seen a hop harvest, this is a great introduction to the overall process, taking you on a journey from field to pint. And for those that are veteran harvest and Hop & Brew School attendees, you can see what the growers have been doing this past year, from facility updates to new hop varieties. Join YCH for the first virtual hop harvest in brewing history!

Another Can Shortage?

Photo courtesy of Northwest Canning

Earlier in 2020 we reported about an impending crowler can shortage (see below) as supplies for this packaging format surged due to the closure of bars, restaurants, and other draft-related venues (on-premise sales). With many of these businesses remaining closed or at limited capacity, the swell off-premise sales continue to test long-term the manufacturing capacity of cans. The latest indications are that the 16-oz. can format as well as the slim-can packaging are both being pushed to their limit. Hard seltzer sales are continuing in the upward direction, which is driving the slim-can shortage, while the 16-oz. shortage is driven by the craft beer segment. The 16-oz. shortage is expected to disproportionally affect the smaller and newer breweries. Meanwhile supplies of crowler cans continues to be short with one supplier cited in a story by as shifting from sales by the half pallet (1,200 cans) to sales by the box (120 cans).

We decided to chat with a few craft brewers from our area. John Kimmich, owner of The Alchemist brewery in Stowe, Vermont, whose 16-oz. can format of their esteemed Heady Topper was one of the first craft breweries to package their beers in this size, was concerned but optimistic. “Our team at The Alchemist is very organized, and very steady, so we are able to place our orders well in advance. Our CFO, Lara Lonon, has done an amazing job of maintaining our supply chains and accommodating longer lead times.”

A much newer brewery on the scene is Black Flannel Brewing located in Essex, Vermont, which opened up this summer. Speaking with their Head of Brewing Operations Dan Sartwell, there hasn’t been much in the way of supply chain worries at this point, but he mentioned that a can shortage may greatly impact them. Until brewery taprooms and restaurants can fully reopen, breweries of all sizes continue to lean on bottles and cans to sell the remaining volume of beer. Currently, Ball Corporation, one of the leading manufacturers of aluminum cans for the beer industry, is in the process of building two new facilities to increase their output to meet the growing demand. Hopefully craft breweries large and small will have their demands met. John added “Worry doesn’t get you very far in this business, or in life in general. We try to mitigate any worries by keeping an eye out for any potential disruptions and addressing them before they happen.”

Working Together For Everyone

The current COVID-19 crisis can seem overwhelming at times. But despite all the pain and hardships that folks are going through, there are some bright spots that are sometimes not always reported. One such bright spot is the number of breweries, wineries, and distilleries that are mobilizing to craft sanitizer solution and hand sanitizers in order to help meet the growing demands for these products. Across the country, winemakers and brewers are creating the “wash” that the distillers can then concentrate through the distillation process to create an ethanol solution strong enough to kill the virus (The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends at least 60% ethanol for disinfection from SARS-CoV-2 virus). It’s heart-warming to know that our friends in the alcohol industry are giving back in the best way they can in these challenging times. We at BYO magazine salute all those that are devoting their time and valuable resources towards this magnanimous effort.

What’s New

Ss Brewtech Brew Cube

If you don’t want to have your brew system be a static structure, you should check out the new Brew Cubes from Ss Brewtech. Engineered to be a modular system to allow for a variety of homebrew equipment configurations. With the ability to incorporate new equipment, the Brew Cubes were designed to grow alongside the brewer’s equipment needs and skill level. The core of the Brew Cube is the base kit, and from there, any variety of shelves and accessories can be added. With many of the core accessories available now, Ss Brewtech views this as a long-term platform, and intends to introduce additions over the coming months and years.

FerMonster Strainer

Available in two sizes, MonsterMesh and MiniMesh, these strainers were designed to fit on the tops of FerMonster™ and PET carboys. There are multiple ways these strainers can work for brewers and you can have more than one going at a time. The strainer is designed to be reused multiple times and is dishwasher safe (the top rack only). It is also washing machine safe. Oak chips, dry hops, and fruit are some examples of things that can be added to the strainer in order to prevent clogging.

Rahr North Star Pils™

A new base malt to set your compass by, Rahr North Star Pils™ is malted to meet the requirements of brewers looking for a domestic Pilsner malt with low color and low modification. North Star Pils™ brings overtones of honey and sweet bread with supporting flavor and aroma notes of hay and nutty character. It’s suitable for any beer style, but crafted primarily for use in classic lager styles. It is malted to a target of 38–40 °Kolbach to facilitate easy lautering with any mash regimen. Compared to Rahr Premium Pilsner, North Star Pils™ is a bit lower in both color and modification.

Tapcooler Counter Pressure Bottle Filler

Fill bottles directly from your draft faucet with the new Tapcooler Counter Pressure Bottle Filler. Fit the Tapcooler into any forward-sealing faucet and slowly fill bottles by pressure release. The fill tube on the Tapcooler is telescoping, allowing it to reach the bottom of both short and tall bottles. Hook up a CO2 line and you can purge empty bottles and the headspace, prolonging the life of your beer. With many optional configurations available through accessories, the Tapcooler can fit just about any home draft system. Learn more at Great Fermentations’ website.

Quality Labs for Small Brewers

Released by Brewers Publications, Quality Labs for Small Brewers, will walk you step-by-step through the process of establishing and writing a quality program for your brewery. Dive beyond the numbers and build an understanding of a small brewer’s most important measurements and how to analyze them. These routines will help pinpoint any risks or areas of improvement and ensure that only quality beer reaches the customer.

LalBrew Verdant IPA

Lallemand has a new strain selected for its sensory characteristics. It results in increased mouthfeel and fresh fruit aromatics. This strain can be used for the production of modern IPA styles with tropical fruit qualities when paired with hops of equivalent characteristics and late and dry hopping regimens. Verdant IPA strain is recommended to be fermented between 64–73 °F (18–23 °C), it is a medium to high flocculator, can ferment up to 10% ABV, and is a medium to high attenuator. Learn more at their website.

The Spike Solo

Designed to be compact and turnkey, the Solo is a great way to brew all-grain with minimal space requirements. An optional steam condenser lid is designed to fit all sizes of the Solo, making it convenient for brewing indoors without ventilation requirements. Each Solo is fabricated at Spike Brewing’s shop in Milwaukee, Wisconsin using high- quality materials and components. Initially available with a 20-gallon (76-L) brewpot size, capable of brewing 5–10 gallons (19–38 L) and requiring a 240V outlet. Plans are to release a 15-gallon (57-L) and a 10-gallon (28-L) brewpot version capable of brewing 2.5–5 gallons (9.5–19 L) and 2.5 gallons (9.5 L) respectively. The 10-gallon (28 L) version will only require a 120V outlet. For more, check out

KOMOS® V2 Kegerator

The new KOMOS V2 Kegerator builds upon the original model, but with several notable upgrades. First it sports a faster cooling capacity and more energy efficient operation as well. The redesigned interior can now hold up to four 5-gallon (19-L) kegs at one time. Added features like the Duotight fittings allow for easy changeovers of kegs or for cleaning while the EVABarrier draft lines are a double-walled tubing offering protection against oxidation, CO2 loss, and microbial growth. Also included are stainless steel Intertap forward-sealing faucets, stainless steel tower, digital controller, stainless steel door, stainless steel floor, rolling casters, tower cooling fan, and KOMOS CO2 regulator. Learn more at

WildBrew™ Philly Sour

In collaboration with the University of the Sciences (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania), Lallemand Brewing is proud to introduce its first non-Saccharomyces yeast in dry form. Isolated from nature by Dr. Matthew Farber and his research team, this yeast is able to produce both lactic acid and ethanol during primary fermentation. Determined to be of the genus Lachancea, the species is defined as new and the use of the product in sour beer production is patent pending. It will produce sour beer in 7–10 days at 77 °F (25 °C). The acidity produced is described as subtle and smooth with flavor notes of red apple, peach, and honeydew melon. Philly sour is recommended at a pitch rate of 50–100 g per hL (2–4 g per gallon) of wort, which is sufficient to achieve a minimum of 2.5–5 million viable cells/mL and is available in 500-g and 11-g sachets. Learn more at

Upcoming Events

November 6 & 7, 2020 — BYO NanoCon Online

Learn from craft brewing industry experts with live online sessions covering Sales & Marketing, Brewery Operations, Business Operations, and Start-Ups. Join Nano breweries (and Nanos in planning) online for two days packed with over 30 seminars, workshops, and Q&A panels geared just for you – the small-scale commercial brewery, or brewery in-planning, working on smaller systems. Get your questions answered live by speakers, meet and learn from fellow attendees, and talk with vendors specializing in the small-scale Nano brewing niche. NanoCon Online will be a wonderful and safe opportunity that will benefit your small-scale brewing and business knowledge during very challenging times.

2017 BYO Boot Camp - Indianapolis, IN

Due to concerns about the COVID-19 outbreak, this event has been postponed. The BYO Boot Camp will now be held March 25–27, 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: