Hoppy Beer Without The Hops?

Written By Dean Zarbaugh

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Photo Credit: Dean Zarbaugh

Brewing beer has always been a blend of art and science. Well it’s actually a blend of grain, yeast, water, and hops. But what if you didn’t need the hops to make a hoppy flavored beer?

Biologists at UC Berkeley have done just that by performing some Jurassic Park-esque experiments on beer, and the results are pretty interesting. According to a study by Dr. Charles Denby and doctoral candidate Rachel Li that was published in Nature Communications, biologists have created a hoppy tasting beer without the hops. The goal of the study was to find a more sustainable way to produce beer. As it stands now, growing hops consumes a lot of water. That’s where science comes in. By using a gene-editing tool, biologists were able to create new strains of brewer’s yeast that could mimic the hoppy flavor found in everyone’s favorite IPAs. According to Berkeley News, to do this,

Denby and Li inserted four new genes plus the promoters that regulate the genes into industrial brewer’s yeast. Two of the genes – linalool synthase and geraniol synthase – code for enzymes that produce flavor components common to many plants. In this instance, the genes came from mint and basil, respectively.

[…]

The two other genes were from yeast and boosted the production of precursor molecules needed to make linalool and geraniol, the hoppy flavor components. All of the genetic components – the Cas9 gene, four yeast, mint and basil genes and promoters – were inserted into yeast on a tiny circular DNA plasmid. The yeast cells then translated the Cas9 gene into the Cas9 proteins, which cut the yeast DNA at specific points. Yeast repair enzymes then spliced in the four genes plus promoters.

I don’t understand most of that because back in school, I never thought science would be so important to my future. Joke’s on me. After everything was said and done, the duo asked Charles Bamforth, a malting and brewing expert at UC Davis to brew a beer with the strains they developed. He also brewed a batch with the usual hops and yeast and gave both beers to the innovations manager at Lagunitas, Bryan Donaldson to conduct a blind taste test using 27 brewery employees. The results? Employees described the beer made from the engineered strains as tasting more hoppy than a traditionally brewed beer made with regular yeast and hops. Pretty impressive work if you ask me.

Like I said, this is all way above my head, but I’m fascinated by it. It’s amazing what we can do these days at a microscopic level, and how it affects what we eat and drink. If only I hadn’t given up on science to become a writer! But back to the topic at hand. Thanks to this study, we now know that making a more sustainable beer is possible. Who knows what else this could lead to? We could be on the verge of an entirely new sub-section of craft beer making. Rather than experimenting with traditional brewing methods, brewers instead work to craft the beer’s hop flavor at a microscopic level, leading to dozens, if not hundreds of new flavors. You could even blend hops and the new strains together! Could you imagine the flavors of a super hop-forward IPA that has both hops and hoppy yeast? The possibilities are endless!

I think in the long run this is going to be quite beneficial to the craft beer industry. Around 2013, a hop shortage struck the United States that lasted for a couple years. Things are now finally turning around the lately to the point of having a bit of a hop surplus, but there is always that lingering fear that history could repeat itself. We can’t control the climate (despite what some might say) so if conditions turn against hop growing, this could help brewers cushion the blow.

The craft beer industry has always been on the leading edge of experimenting with beer, testing its limits. Thanks to this study, we are at the beginning of a whole wave of new styles and flavors. I for one am looking forward to seeing what’s to come.

Leave your thoughts in the comments below!

Sibling Revelry Expands Distribution

Written by Dean Zarbaugh

Sibling Revelry announced that beginning today they will be expanding distribution throughout the state of Ohio. They will be distributed by Beverage Distributors (in Ashland, Ashtabula, Columbiana, Erie, Geauga, Huron, Mahoning, Medina, Portage, Stark, Summit, Trumbull, and Wayne counties) and 17th Star (in Adams, Brown, Butler, Clermont, Delaware, Fairfield, Franklin, Greene, Hamilton, Highland, Licking Marion Morrow, Montgomery, Preble, Union, and Warren counties) in addition to their own self-distribution territory.

From the announcement:

Beverage Distributors and 17th Star are both reliable, respected distributors with proven track records of success that will help us take Sibling Revelry to the next level,” says part owner Sean Kennedy. “Craft beer fans have been very receptive to our releases and we can’t wait to bring our great product lineup to even more people.”

The news comes on the heels of their two year anniversary, and as the brewery is in the midst of doubling their production facility in Westlake, Ohio. Since opening in 2015, Sibling has quickly become a hot-spot for local craft enthusiasts to flock to. Their taproom has a chill, laid back vibe that is also pet friendly. It’s definitely worth the trip to Westlake to visit. If you do, I recommend trying their Lavender Wit and Dew Brew Blonde IPA. I also particularly enjoy their Red and IPA.

Look out for Sibling Revelry on shelves throughout Ohio starting today!

BrewDog Opening Hotel With In Room Taps

Written By Dean Zarbaugh

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Photo Credit: BrewDog

I’ve had the fortune of traveling a lot over the years and I’ve stayed in my fair share of hotels. No matter how nice they are, they’re just missing… something. Visiting a new town, one might want to check out the local beer scene. But, sometimes going out to drink can be too much of a hassle. A mini bar is nice in theory… but in reality, $20 for a tiny ass bottle and some nuts is way too much.

Well, thanks in part to crowdfunding, Scottish brewer BrewDog is opening a new hotel overlooking their headquarters that features taps in every room and a shower beer fridge. The hotel will be opening across the pond in Aberdeenshire sometime in early 2019. How does that help us here in Ohio you ask? Well, we’re in luck because it just so happens that BrewDog opened their US facility right here in Columbus, Ohio. And yes, there are plans to open a similar hotel here attached to what they’ve dubbed The Overworks which is a sour beer facility! This would be the perfect haven for any Ohio, or traveling craft beer lover to stay while checking out the wealth of breweries central Ohio has to offer.

For those unacquainted with BrewDog, they were founded in Scotland in 2007. Since then, they’ve done some pretty insanely cool things like brew beer at the bottom of the ocean. They opened in Columbus in 2015 and announced plans for a brewery in Brisbane, Australia as well as a bar much closer to home in Cleveland, Ohio.

BrewDog makes some pretty tasty beer like their flagship Punk IPA, the Dead Pony Club Session Ale (which is surprisingly hoppy given it’s 3.8% ABV), Elvis Juice which is an IPA with grapefruit, Jet Black Heart which is an oatmeal milk stout, Hazy Jane which is a hazy New England style IPA and more.

It’s amazing to witness all that the craft beer industry has grown into. I can only imagine what the future holds. How about it? Will you be staying at the DogHouse when it opens in Columbus? I know I sure will.

NEWS: Northeast Ohio Craft Beer Manufacturing Jobs See Major Increase

Written by Dean Zarbaugh

Photo by RMI Outlet

The fine folks over at Crain’s Cleveland Business are reporting (via Team NEO) that craft beer manufacturing jobs has increased by 1,700% since 2005! What exactly does this mean for Northeast Ohio? Well, I’ll let Crain’s Cleveland Business explain:

Breaking down the details, Team NEO vice president of strategy and research Jacob Duritsky said the manufacturing side of the beverage industry in Northeast Ohio employs almost 2,200 people.

That’s incredible. These are great jobs to have. The pay is decent, and depending on the company, there could be added benefits as well. It’s worth noting that a majority of the 2,200 people mentioned are in the soda industry, while about 460 of them are employed in the craft beer industry. To put this in perspective…

Via Crain’s Business Cleveland:

Back in 2005, there were roughly two dozen workers in craft beer in Northeast Ohio, Duritsky said, which would’ve essentially reflected workers at Great Lakes Brewing Co. at the time.

So manufacturing jobs in craft beer in this market have grown roughly 1,700% since then.

As a consumer of craft beer, it’s nice to see our industry continuing to grow and do well. Years ago, you could count the number of Northeast Ohio breweries on one hand. Now you need a calculator to tally them all up. Luckily for me, the Ohio Craft Brewers Association had such a calculator and did the work for me. Back in 2012 there were 63 breweries in all of Ohio. Today, there are over 254 in the state. You can check out some other fun facts on their website as well. Some of my favorite via OCBA:

– Barrels of craft beer brewed in Ohio in 2016: 1,373,041
– Rank among the states in craft beer production: #4
Craft beer industry’s economic impact in Ohio in 2016: $2.67 billion
– Economic impact increase 2014-2016: $510 million
– Rank among states in economic impact: #7

That’s a lot money. I knew we were in the top 5 for production, and that they were helping stimulate our economy, but I had no idea just how much an economic impact craft beer had until I began writing this article. So next time someone makes a comment about the kind of beer you like, you can let them know that without that beer our state would still be in the drain.

When I left Ohio for college back in 2007, things weren’t looking great for my home state. Now, 11 years later, it’s amazing to see the turnaround not only Cleveland has made, but Ohio too. There’s still a lot of work to be done, but it’s nice to see silver linings like this every now and then.

Get out there and support your favorite local craft breweries. You’re supporting your fellow citizens as well. You could even call it your civic duty to drink more craft beer.

Comment below with your favorite addition to the Northeast Ohio craft beer scene.

NEWS: 3 Floyds Eyes Expansion

Written by Dean Zarbaugh

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Photo Credit: 3 Floyds Brewing

It was announced yesterday that one of my favorite breweries outside of Ohio, 3 Floyds of Munster, Indiana has filed plans with the city to more than double their current facility from 57,000 square feet to 136,000. The expansion includes land for a retail space, a larger brewpub, expanded parking and office space, along with an outdoor eating area for when Jack Frost isn’t nipping at your nose.

As for a timeframe for the expansion, The Chicago Tribune reports:

Munster Town Manager Dustin Anderson said he expects formal approval by March. The new brewery would likely be completed in 2019 or 2020.

3 Floyds (Indiana’s largest production brewery) was founded in 1996. Since then, they have become one of the most highly regarded breweries in the craft beer industry. I don’t know what they put in the water in Muncie, but damn does 3 Floyds put out quality, consistent beer. Their “flagship” beers, Gumball Head (a hoppy wheat), Yum Yum (a session ale), Robert The Bruce (Scottish Ale) and Alpha King (pale ale) can be found at most reputable bottle shops and grocery stores and wherever quality beer is sold. However, some beers in their catalogue don’t see as big of a distro push. The new production facility they’re proposing would theoretically bring more of 3 Floyds’ brews to shelves across their distribution footprint. Per The Times of Northwest Indiana, the expansion would put them in the same class as other craft beer royalty:

In their talks with the town, company official [sic] have compared 3 Floyds’ new digs to the headquarters of the national craft brewery Stone Brewing in Escondido, California, just outside San Diego.

That is nothing short of amazing.

I want to take a step back for a second and mention the artwork that accompanies the beer at 3 Floyds, and how exceptional it is. Their beer really stands out on a shelf. As someone who works at the retail level of the craft beer industry, I hear consumers all the time talk about the eye-popping artwork. Wine consumers often tell me that they like to pick out their wines based on the label. I always tell them, “I do the same things with beer!” I think about three-quarters of the time, you will usually end up with a wonderful product if you buy strictly on the appeal of the label. Anyone walking home with a 3 Floyds product can be assured that the quality of the beer will be exceptional, no matter the style.

They even have comic books chronicling the tales of the Alpha King, entitled (appropriately) Alpha King. It’s written by Nick Floyd and none other than comic book legend Brian Azzarello! Featuring art by the awesome Simon Bisley and Ryan Brown. I’m happy for the people at 3 Floyds, and wish them the best on their latest endeavors!

Comment below with your favorite 3 Floyds brew.

NEWS: Run The Jewels Announce New Craft Beer

Written by Dean Zarbaugh

It looks like hip-hop duo Killer Mike and El-P, AKA Run The Jewels are getting back into the craft beer business later this month. Their first foray into craft beer came with last year’s “Stay Gold” IPA. Today’s announcement was made on Pipeworks Brewing Company’s Twitter account this afternoon.

Photo Source: Pipeworks Twitter Account

“Panther Like A Panther” Stout, like “Stay Gold” IPA takes its name from a Run the Jewels track. This time however, instead of the beer being brewed using the same recipe, “Panther Like A Panther” will be brewed using three different recipes according to Paste Magazine.

…Panther Like a Panther is using three distinct recipes, crafted by each individual brewing partner. Interboro, for instance, is said to be making a traditional stout while Pipeworks is brewing a porter blended with a bourbon barrel-aged beer. J. Wakefield, on the other hand, is said to be brewing a coffee-infused stout with beans courtesy of Miami’s Panther Coffee.

I for one am excited for this release. Each one of those distinct styles sounds delicious. I was disappointed to miss “Stay Gold” IPA when it was released last year. Maybe I can take a road trip to Miami in April for “Panther Like A Panther” Stout. For those of you wondering, this isn’t just some gimmick. RTJ has partnered with some of the most highly respected breweries around. Proving the point, the Burial Beer Co./Interboro Spirits & Ales “Stay Gold” was voted #1 IPA in America in 2017 by Draft Magazine. Out of 387 IPAs sampled! I have no doubt that the quality and praise of “Panther” will be just as high.

Later this year RTJ will be releasing “Legend Has It” Pilsner (April), and “Double Down” IPA (October). Those of you living in Europe, you will have a CBD infused version of “Legend Has It Pilsner” released in April. There are even some breweries here in the US who are also experimenting with CBD infused beers (where legal).

How about it? Any readers in Chicago, Miami or NYC want to pick me up some “Panther”? Please?

NEWS: Stone Is Suing MillerCoors

Written by Dean Zarbaugh

Today David announced he was battling Goliath. In one corner, Greg Koch and Stone Brewing Company. In the other, MillerCoors and their Keystone products.

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The announcement comes via Twitter. In a video statement, Stone Brewing Company co-founder Greg Koch announced that they will be suing big ol’ MillerCoors for “intentionally creating confusion in the marketplace” with their branding of Keystone and Keystone Light beer.

Big Beer conglomerates like MillerCoors are losing ground in the battle against the plethora of craft breweries popping up all over the country. Sales are declining as consumers look to craft beer for a fresh, flavorful, high-quality product that they can be proud to hold in their hand, knowing that their money helps support a local business run by people with a true passion for the craft. Breweries have been popping up all over the country as a way to help towns hit hard by economic woes. So it’s especially troubling when people try to mess with that.

MillerCoors has decided to play a fast and loose with things, as evidenced in how they brand their Keystone products. They have conveniently dropped the “Key” from the name, leaving STONE LIGHT in big bold letters.

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Photo Credit: Stone Brewing

This beer, placed on a shelf with true Stone Brewing products might confuse non-craft-enthusiast buyers. Imagine a friend or loved one you know who isn’t as up to date with the beer industry wanting to surprise you, a craft enthusiast with some of your favorite Stone beer, only to return with Keystone Light, a beer you couldn’t be paid to drink. That’s exactly what MillerCoors is hoping will happen with this blatant rebranding.

Sometimes, even craft enthusiasts will pick up a can before ultimately turning it to reveal the true nature of the product inside, and placing it back on the shelf to continue to gather dust.

As Greg mentions in the video, MillerCoors probably thought that “they had no other choice”. Boy were they wrong. It will be interesting to see how things play out. I wish Greg, Steve and the entire Stone crew the best of luck in their David vs. Goliath endeavor. It’s nice to see someone standing up for the little guys.

I will continue to follow this story and provide any updates when they happen.