How Omega Yeast Is Bringing New Flavors to Beer

  Photo: Omega Yeast

Photo: Omega Yeast

Former patent attorneys Mark Schwarz and Lance Shaner have built one of the most forward-thinking yeast labs in the world. The cofounders of Chicago’s Omega Yeast supply amateur and professional brewers with singular yeast strains and souring bacteria, delivered fresh, fast, and healthy. Working one-on-one with breweries, Omega provides its clients both peace of mind and an extensive microbial palette to help them brew beers that are both distinctive and distinctly delicious. Schwarz handles business and sales, while Shaner—who’d previously earned a Ph.D. in microbiology and molecular genetics—leads the lab. Together, they’re on a quest to bring brewers new and unusual yeast strains from around the globe, as well as to engineer hybrids that, in the best possible sense, broaden the boundaries of good taste. 

Here, I take a look at their business for SevenFifty Daily.



With Harlem Hops, the Craft Beer Community Broadens Its Reach

 Photo: Harlem Hops

Photo: Harlem Hops

Craft beer is often typecast as the domain of bearded white dudes, a cliché that Kevin Bradford, Kim Harris, and Stacey Lee have detonated with Harlem Hops. The first black-owned craft beer bar in New York City’s uptown neighborhood of Harlem, it’s a welcoming portal to the world of hazy IPAs, tingly sours, and barrel-aged stouts, among others.

The founders, all graduates of historically black colleges and universities, have created more than simply a sleek bar with bare brick walls, beers served in stylish Italian Teku glasses, and harlem spelled out in lightbulbs on the ceiling. Rather, beer curator Bradford and his partners Lee and Harris operate Harlem Hops as an educational platform, with the goal of introducing fresh, local craft brews to customers who may never have met a hoppy beer—or knew how much they’d love one.

For SevenFifty Daily, I take a look at how Harlem Hops is changing New York City’s beer scene.

Growth Potential: How American Brewers Are Following Belgian Farm Traditions

 Illustration; Danielle Deley / Good Beer Hunting

Illustration; Danielle Deley / Good Beer Hunting

For Good Beer Hunting, I take a deep dive into how American brewers are tapping into Belgian farming traditions to create compelling beers that distinctly speak of the land. It’s really interesting! I swear!

How Breweries Are Leveraging Popular Spirits Brands

 Collage: SevenFifty Daily

Collage: SevenFifty Daily

It’s been an interesting time for beer sales, as volumes are falling for many of the major breweries. In an effort to reach a new audience, breweries such as New Belgium, Ballast Point and Budweiser have started partnering with distilleries to create products that can reach across both sides of the bar.

Brew U: America's Best College Breweries

The Brewery at the CIA

I spent my undergrad days at Ohio University, a charming college distinguished by brick streets, big trees and bars slinging numerous drink specials. The Greenery had quarter draft night, while the Union sold Genesee Cream Ale for a buck. One was also the magic number at O’Hooley’s where, for a single glorious hour nightly, the brewpub sold pints of beers such as Scotch ales, pale ales and stout pints for a dollar.

Power Hour might’ve been about pounding pints (my record is five), but inebriation came with a side of schooling. Beyond the buzz, drinking beer during my college years was all about the discovery of flavor—the interplay between grains and hops, water and yeast. Power Hour was the cheapest education in town, in some ways more useful than that journalism degree.

A couple decades later, colleges have caught the craft-beer bug. Not just drinking it—though I’m positive there’s still plenty of that going around—but rather colleges are installing breweries where students can cook up test batches that are served at bars and taprooms right on campus. Whether you’re a curious undergrad or a graduate looking for a liquid refresher course, here are five of the best college breweries where you’ll happily earn extra credit. The rest of my story awaits at October.

How Brewers Are Using Coolships to Create Wild Fermentations

 Photo by Marcus Nilsson

Photo by Marcus Nilsson

Most beers are made with commercial yeast strains, as dependable as spring rain. Increasingly, though, brewers are going wild and creating spontaneously fermented beer teeming with native microbes. Here, I decode the trend for Wine Enthusiast magazine.

Autumn Brings Breweries, Bars and a Taproom

 Photo: Cole Wilson

Photo: Cole Wilson

It's the greatest time to be a beer drinker in New York City, right? Wrong! This fall, the beer scene will get even buzzier with the arrival of new breweries from Evil Twin and Torch & Crown, as well a second location of Beer Street. I chronicled the hoppy news for The New York Times. Care to read? 

Turn on the Light: The Rise of the Low-Alcohol Craft Lager

 Photo: Olivia Rae James

Photo: Olivia Rae James

Scroll through Instagram, peruse Twitter and tiptoe through Untappd, and you might assume that beer fans have blinders on for everything but IPAs and pastry stouts. Blow hype’s smokescreen aside, however, and you’ll see the light: Americans love low-ABV lagers. In January, sales data revealed that the country’s best-selling beers are Bud Light, Coors Light and Miller Lite, the first time the top three were all light. With lower-calorie beers ruling the land, craft and independent brewers are making unlikely moves, especially as conglomerates increasingly encroach on their turf. “They’re firing shots, so we’ll fire shots back,” says Night Shift co-founder Rob Burns.

Enter the era of light lagers, low-calorie craft beers and nonalcoholic sips suited for one and all. My Imbibe feature awaits your clicking finger.