Each year, farmers in the Pacific Northwest and around the world release the latest and greatest hop varieties destined to change the very aroma and flavor and beer. From the dank, passion fruit punch of Strata to grape-like Zappa, I dive into the latest varieties looking to make a splash in 2019 and beyond. My story for SevenFifty Daily awaits.
I spent much of my youth wandering malls, buying cassette tapes and eating McDonald’s burgers in the food court. It was my childhood, no changing that, but I don’t have a hankering to return to a mall anytime soon. But if there’s one thing that could change that, it’s beer. Beer! Taking advantage of ample square footage, affordable real estate and a captive audience sick of Sbarro, a number of breweries have taken root in malls that are trying to re-cast their image for a new generation. I tackle the story for SevenFifty Daily.
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.
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.
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.
To American imbibers reared on fizz, zero bubbles may seem as off-putting as that forgotten cup of beer found after a party. However, in Belgium still beer has a proud tradition. There, spontaneously fermented lambics are sometimes kegged or bagged bubble free and served as flat as the day is long. It’s not a bug but an appealing feature—without carbonic acid, sour beers are less perceptibly acidic and can make for easier drinking.
Inspired by Belgian brewing customs, a budding group of sour- and wild-focused American breweries are saying sayonara to fizz. Is it good? Bad? Heresy? Heaven? Only one way to find out: Read my story. Or not! It's OK. I write a lot of words.
As consumers turn away from bottles and embrace cans, producers are left in a pickle: How can they compete in this heavy-metal marketplace? Easy: By cracking the code on can-conditioning, packaging volatile sours, super-effervescent saisons, and beers teeming with wild yeast in 16-ounce cans, bringing bottled-beer experiences to the beach koozie. Interested? I was! This was one of those ideas I got from staring at a beer cooler for far too long, till the idea started to coalesce in my hops-addled brain. Curious? Here's the story.
For SevenFifty Daily, I cover how sake has become American brewers’ latest muse. Brewers are collaborating with sake producers, using sake yeast strains, and brewing their own, a move that makes sense when you consider that sake, like beer, is a fermented cereal beverage. “The fact that they have more alcohol than standard beer doesn’t matter,” John Laffler, the co-owner and brewer of Chicago’s Off Color Brewing, says of sakes, which generally have winelike alcohol levels. “It has nothing to do with the ABV. It’s a fermented cereal grain.”
For SevenFifty Daily, I take a dive into the recent trend of breweries embracing oversize magnum bottles. Here's the intro...
In this hop-mad moment, craft-brewing buffs regularly queue up at breweries to buy freshly canned IPAs, beer’s hottest currency. Suarez Family Brewery, in New York State’s scenic Hudson Valley, plays a different game.
Suarez specializes in unfiltered lagers, delicate pale ales, and what cofounder and brewer Dan Suarez calls country beers. His rustic creations embrace local agricultural riches—whether fruits, grains or herbs—with wild yeasts and souring bacteria lending extra complexity.
Variations such as the oak-seasoned 100 Ft North are packaged in 750-milliliter bottles that are regularly available at Suarez’s taproom near Hudson. Top-shelf quality notwithstanding, North rarely draws feverish droves, except when Suarez alters one variable: size. “If we sell magnums, people will line up and it will fly out the door,” he says of the 1.5-liter bottle, which costs $32. “We’ve been quite surprised about how excited people get about magnums, even though we have thousands of the same beers in 750s.”