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Hoppy Read: “The Complex Case of Thiols”

Editor Emeritus Stan Hieronymus has an article over at Beer&Brewing Magazine on Thiols – one of the compounds in hops that are responsible for those crazy hot tropical flavors.

Thiols, also known as mercaptans, are sulfur-containing organic compounds with a sulfur atom bound to a hydrogen atom. Thiols make up less than 1% of the essential oils in a hops cone but might hold a key to the fashionable in-demand tropical flavors.

Read at Beer&Brewing Magazine


Charlie – and you know who we mean – is retiring

The godfather of American homebrewing has an exit strategy. The Brewers Association announced that Charlie Papazian will step down Jan. 23, 2019, on this 70th birthday.

Papazian and Charlie Matzen, both school teachers at the time, founded the American Homebrewers Association in Boulder, Colo., in 1978. Papazian started the Great American Beer Festival four years later. And the following year, the Association of Brewers was organized to include the AHA and the Institute for Brewing and Fermentation Studies to assist the growing number of new breweries. In 2005, the Association of Brewers and the Brewers’ Association of America merged to form the Brewers Association. Papazian served as its president until handing over the title to Bob Pease in 2016.

“We are all here today because of Charlie Papazian,” Pease said in a press release. “His influence on the homebrewing and craft brewing community is immeasurable. Who could have predicted that a simple wooden spoon, ingenuity and passion would spawn a community of more than one million homebrewers and 6,000 small and independent U.S. craft breweries.”

Many the brewers who joined what has become known as the craft beer movement learned to make beer in homebrew classes Papazian taught in Colorado in the 1970s. Still more learned from reading The Complete Joy of Homebrewing, following is advice to “Relax. Don’t worry. Have a homebrew.”

In the BA press release, Papazian says, “I had a playful vision that there would be a homebrewer in every neighborhood and a brewery in every town. But what I did not imagine, couldn’t imagine, never considered, was the impact that craft brewing would have on our culture, economy and American life.”

He will spend his final year at the BA completing many projects, including a craft brewing history archive project. The archive will house 40 years of craft beer history in the form of more than 100,000 publications, photographs, audiotapes, films, videos, and documents — including 140 video interviews of the pioneers of American craft brewing — and will be accessible to researchers via the BA. He will also deliver the keynote address at the AHA’s 40th annual National Homebrew Conference, Hombrew Con, in Portland, Ore., in June.

The BA inveites brewers and homebrewers are invited to share their well wishes and Charlie Papazian stories on the AHA and BA Facebook pages.


The billion dollar impact of homebrewing

Research by the American Homebrewers Association suggests that the total impact of homebrewing on the American economy was $1.225 billion in 2015, and that homebrewing created 11,672 jobs.

An AHA survey found that 815 shops sold home beverage-making supplies to the nation’s estimated 1.2 million homebrewers in 2015, with collective revenues estimated at $764 million. However, Brewers Association economist Bart Watson explained that measures only part of the contribution to the economy.

“To estimate the total impact of that spending, we need to think about all the other ripples those dollars create,” he wrote at the AHA website. “Equipment suppliers buy raw materials to make the equipment. Homebrewing shops employ people, and those employees spend money. This is called the ‘multiplier effect.’ Retail multipliers are typically lower than those in manufacturing industries, but they can still add 20% to the total impact.

“To estimate the total impact, I put these spending numbers into economic impact modeling software called IMPLAN. For simplicity, I assigned the $764 million to a retail category that includes hobby shops. In addition, I put $50 million in building material and garden supply stores (I’m sure some of you have bought homebrew supplies at Home Depot) and another $50 million in food and beverage stores. The final $136 million I evenly divided between hotels, travel, restaurants, and entertainment (to estimate travel and other expenses).”

The AHA is a division of the Brewers Association.


LongShot contest adds ‘East vs. West’ theme

Boston Beer Co. has added to new twist to its Samuel Adams LongShot contest from homebrewers. For the first time it will feature an “East vs. West” battle. Judges will choose one winning beer from east of the Mississipi River and one from the west. Each will be brewed by Samuel Adams and sold in the 2016 LongShot six-pack along with a beer from the winner of the Samuel Adams employee contest.

The submission window for the contest is May 1-16 and details are available at the company website. Winners will be announce at the 2015 Great American Beer Festival in Denver.

While Samuel Adams is accepting entries for the 2015 contest, the Samuel Adams LongShot American Homebrew Contest variety six-pack with winning brews from the 2014 winners will be available nationwide in select retail stores this spring. This year’s winners include Forestville, Calif., resident Greg Rasmussen; Smithtown, N.Y., resident Matthew Knott; and Brooklyn, N.Y., resident and Samuel Adams employee John Marra. The variety pack will include two bottles each of Greg’s “Raspy’s Robust Porter,” Matthew’s “Smokehouse Rauchbier” and John’s “Dark Night in Brooklyn” Dunkelweiss.


Homebrewers Association gives Obama lifetime membership

The American Homebrewers Association has given special lifetime gift memberships to President Obama and outgoing White House chef Sam Kass.

The president made history when he purchased a homebrewing kit and — along with Kass — headed the effort to brew White House Honey Ale, the first beer known to have been brewed in the White House.

“Homebrewing is a model example of a bipartisan, pro-community and pro-business activity that all kinds of people can be passionate about and enjoy. President Obama and chef Kass are among the nation’s 1.2 million homebrewers, which include both Republicans and Democrats,” AHA director Gary Glass said for a press release announcing the gifts. “What better way to honor their enthusiasm for the hobby than to give them a lifetime membership to our community, which consists of many leaders, patriots and successful craft beer entrepreneurs.”

President Obama and Kass were mailed the letters below from Glass on behalf of the organization.

To President Obama:

Dear Mr. President:

As one of the nation’s 1.2 million homebrewers, we would be honored to provide you a complimentary lifetime membership to the American Homebrewers Association (AHA), an organization dedicated to promoting the country’s ever-growing community of homebrewers.

Since its founding in 1978, the AHA has worked to educate Americans about the country’s longstanding tradition of homebrewing. Your participation in homebrewing has elevated national awareness for the hobby and has inspired the country’s homebrewers, many of whom have become successful craft beer entrepreneurs.

We thought this membership, which we have also given to chef Sam Kass as he completes his tenure at the White House, would be a fitting and timely holiday gift. Homebrewing is an activity that everybody—regardless of their background or politics—can bond over and enjoy. As part of your holiday celebrations this year, we hope you will brew a batch of the White House Honey Ale or Honey Porter, the brews that have drawn such great national attention to our favorite hobby.

We look forward to you becoming a member of the American Homebrewers Association.

Happy holidays, and cheers to homebrewing.

Yours truly,
Gary Glass
American Homebrewers Association

To chef Kass:

Dear Chef Kass:

As you complete your tenure at the White House, we wanted to send a thank-you gift for all the contributions you have made to the country, and, in particular, to the advancement of our favorite hobby: homebrewing.

We would be honored to provide you a complimentary lifetime membership to the American Homebrewers Association (AHA), an organization dedicated to promoting the country’s ever-growing community of homebrewers.

Since its founding in 1978, the AHA has worked to educate Americans about the country’s longstanding tradition of homebrewing. Your enthusiasm for the craft, and your initiative in experimenting with and sharing the White House’s delicious homebrew recipes have been wonderful—and we are deeply grateful.

We thought this membership, which we have also given to President Obama, would be a fitting gift for the holidays. As part of your holiday celebrations this year, we hope you will brew a batch of the White House Honey Ale or Honey Porter, the brews that have drawn such great national attention to our favorite hobby.

We look forward to you becoming a member of the American Homebrewers Association. We hope this membership will allow you to continue to engage in the hobby as you embark on your next endeavor.

Cheers, and happy holidays.

Yours truly,
Gary Glass
American Homebrewers Association


Law will let California host 2015 homebrewers conference

California governor Jerry Brown has signed a bill that will will allow the 37th National Homebrewers Conference to be held next June in San Diego as scheduled.

Last year, an amendment added to Assembly Bill 1425 (AB1425) was passed and effectively banned homebrewing organizations — including the AHA and the California Homebrewers Association (CHA) — from hosting events centered around their favorite hobby. As a result, the 24th annual 2014 CHA Southern California Homebrewers Festival was canceled.

The new law, which goes into effect Jan. 1, puts the Southern California Homebrewers Festival and the NHC back on the calendar.

“California has been central to the growth of homebrewing — as a hobby, a business and a community,” said American Homebrewers Association director Gary Glass. The AHA organizes the National Homebrewers Conference. “The passage of AB2609 provides homebrewers the opportunity to continue innovating, learning and sharing their craft through events organized by homebrewers for homebrewers. We’re thrilled to be able to bring the 2015 National Homebrewers Conference to San Diego.”

The AHA and CHA mounted a campaign for the passage of AB2609, with more than 150 individual homebrewers from across California submitting letters to the state government in support of the measure. The bill unanimously passed both the Assembly and Senate.

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Top homebrewers honored at national conference

Arizona homebrewer Jeremy Voeltz won the coveted Ninkasi Award and Robert Hilferding of Zephyrhills, Fla. was crowned Homebrewer of the Year when the results of the National Homebrew Competition were announced as the conclusion of the National Homebrewers Conference in Grand Rapids, Mich.

More than 2,700 homebrewers attended the conference in “Beer City USA,” listening to presentations from 75 speakers, sharing beers, and compiling wish lists at a trade show that featured a dazzle array of brewing equipment.

More than 200 judges evaluated beers, meads and ciders in Grand Rapids. They advanced from 12 first round judging sites, where 8,172 beers were entered, more than in any other beer competition in the world.

Hilferding won best of show with an entry in the Scottish and Irish ale category. The Meadmaker of the Year award was presented to Matthew Weide of Minneapolis, Minn. for his melomel, and Edward Walkowski from N. Abington Twp., Pa. won Cidermaker of the Year.

New in 2014, the Radegast Club of the Year award was presented to the AHA-registered club that made the most exceptional and positive impact on its local community. The Carolina BrewMasters of Charlotte, N.C. earned that honor by developing close connections with their local community through tremendously successful charitable donations, which amounted to $77,500 in 2013. A total of 25 homebrew clubs were nominated for the Radegast award.

The complete results can be found here (choose 2014 and Final Round).


Homebrewers make 1% of beer brewed in US

A survey conducted for the American Homebrewers Association (AHA) indicates that homebrewers produce more than 2 million barrels of beer a year, a barrel being 31 gallons. This represents one percent of total U.S. beer production.

According to the survey, there are an estimated 1.2 million homebrewers in the United States. Two-thirds of them began brewing in 2005 or later.

“The homebrewing community is in every corner of the country and highly engaged in this hobby,” AHA director Gary Glass said for a press release. “From the amount of money spent on supplies to the sheer number of homebrewers, it’s clear this is a growing trend and people are incredibly interested in learning about and making their own brews at home.”

From the survey:

– Demographics: The average homebrewer is 40 years old, with most (60%) falling between 30 and 49 years old. The majority of homebrewers are married or in a domestic partnership (78%), have a college degree or some form of higher education (69%), and are highly affluent — nearly 60% of homebrewers have household incomes of $75,000 or more.

– Location: Homebrewers are fairly evenly spread across the country, with the slight plurality congregated in the West (31%), followed by the South (26%), Midwest (23%) and the fewest in the Northeast (17%).

– Production: In terms of brew production, homebrewers mainly stick to beer — 60 percent of respondents brew only beer at home, compared to wine, mead or cider. AHA members and people affiliated with the AHA on average brewed nearly 10 batches of beer per year, at 7 gallons a batch, which is 15% more batches and nearly 30% more volume than homebrewers who were not affiliated with the AHA.

Retail: Nearly all homebrewers (95%) shop in two local homebrew stores eight or nine times a year, while a majority (80%) also shops in three online stores five times a year. On average, homebrewers spend $800 a year—about $460 on general supplies and ingredients, and $330 on equipment.

The survey was completed by more than 18,000 homebrewers via an online survey from July 30 to September 3, 2013. Of the respondents, 65% were members of the AHA, and 35% were unaffiliated homebrewers.


Annie Johnson wins Homebrewer of the Year

Annie Johnson of Sacramento, Calif., won Homebrewer of the Year when results of the American Homebrewers Association National Homebrew Competition were announced Saturday in Philadelphia.

A record 3,400 attended the 35th National Homebrewers Conference, 75 percent more than last year.

Johnson won with a beer she called her Lite American Lager.

Tavish Sullivan won the Cidermaker of the Year award with his Common Cider, and Mark Tanner won the Meadmaker of the Year award with his Strawberry, Rhubarb and Blackberry Mead. Local homebrewer David Barber won the Ninkasi Award as the winningist brewer in the competition. He won gold medals in the Strong Ale and German Wheat and Rye Beer categories; his homebrew club, Lehigh Valley Homebrewers also won the Gambrinus Club Award.

“Homebrewing is growing fast and attracting a more diverse following,” said AHA director Gary Glass. “I’m pleased see a woman win the Homebrewer of the Year Award, and it’s impressive that she did so in a lager category. Lagers are difficult to brew well, which shows how homebrewers are more technically proficient than ever before.”

The National Homebrew Competition recognizes the most outstanding homemade beer, mead and cider produced by homebrewers. This year, there were 7,756 entries from 2,187 homebrewers located in 49 states and the District of Columbia, U.S. Military APO, Puerto Rico, three Canadian Provinces and Belgium, entered in the first round of the competition.

First round took place at 11 regional sites in the United States. Judges evaluated 894 entries were in the second round. For the first competition, Boulder, Colo., in 1979, there were 34 entries.

Tickets for the 2013 National Homebrewers Conference went on sale Feb. 5 and sold out within 20 hours. Next year’s event will be June 12-14 in Grand Rapids, Mich.

Complete NHC results.


Homebrewers honor Pliny the Elder, Stone

American Homebrewers Association members have voted Russian River Brewing Company’s Pliny the Elder the “Best Commercial Beer in America” for the fifth year running. The poll is conducted annually by Zymurgy magazine.

This is the 11th year that AHA members voted for up to 20 of their favorite beers in an online poll. Members were able to choose any commercial beer available for purchase in the United States.

The top-ranked beers include:
1. Russian River Pliny the Elder
2. Bell’s Two Hearted Ale
3. Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA
4. Bell’s Hopslam Ale
5. Ballast Point Sculpin IPA
6. Founders Breakfast Stout
7. Arrogant Bastard Ale
8. Sierra Nevada Ruthless Rye IPA
T9. Lagunitas Sucks
T9. Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale
T9. Stone Brewing Co. Ruination IPA

More than 1,100 breweries were represented in this year’s poll, and the top-ranked brewery is Stone Brewing Co., with five beers in the top 50. Russian River Brewing Company (Santa Rosa, Calif.) took second with five beers as well, followed by the Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., in third with four beers making the list.

Additionally, the Best Portfolio of Beers was awarded to the Boston Beer Company (Samuel Adams), which had 40 beers receive votes in the poll. The top contenders in the category include:
1. The Boston Beer Company (Samuel Adams)
2. Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
3. Avery Brewing Co.
4. Cigar City Brewing
5. Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

The complete list of Zymurgy’s “Best Beers in America.”


Homebrew supply sales reflect growing hobby

The latest survey of homebrew suppply shops by the American Homebrewers Association confirms that interest in homebrewing continues to grow.

The AHA survey, its fourth, found that on average stores that responded to the survey enjoyed 26% higher revenue in 2012 compred to 2011.

“As homebrewing continues to grow, retail shops are responding accordingly, satisfying the needs of their increasing customer base,” AHA director Gary Glass said. “Homebrew supply shops serve as the heart of local homebrewing communities. The success of a local shop will ensure a thriving community of homebrewers.”

The survey also found that 80% of shops sold a larger quantity of beginner kits, another indication the hobby is expanding. The largest segment of people buying the beginner kits were individuals 30 to 39 years old.

The complete report.


3,400 homebrewers headed to Philadelphia

More than 3,400 homebrewers will descend on Philadelphia next month for the 35th Annual National Homebrewers Conference June 27-29.

“The AHA National Homebrewers Conference is an amazing opportunity for beer lovers and homebrewers to come together to enrich their brewing skills, learn more about the craft and socialize with others who share their passion for homebrewing,” said Gary Glass, director, American Homebrewers Association.

Seminars and judging the final rounds of the AHA National Homebrew Competition are at the center of the conference. The world’s largest beer competition drew 8,263 entries from 2,187 participants. First round judges sent 940 of them on to the second round.

The seminars — with up to four presentations at the time because of how large the conference has grown — include topics like Yeast Culturing 101, Practical Malting,Alternative Wood Aging Techniques, and Beers of our Founding Fathers.

The conference sold out in 20 hours after tickets went on sale in February.


Alabama last to legalize homebrewing

For the first time since the end of Prohibition it will soon be legal to homebrew in every state in the nation.

The Alabama Senate gave final approval to a bill that will allow residents to homebrew limited amounts of beer, wine, mead or cider. Gov. Robert Bentley’s office is reviewing the bill, but is expected to sign it relatively quickly.

That means Alabama likely won’t be the last state to “officially” legalize homebrew. Alabama’s law becomes effective as soon as Bentley signs it. The homebrew bill passed earlier this year in Mississippi goes into effect 90 days after Gov. Phil Bryant signed the bill. So the Mississippi law isn’t official until July 1.

Although thousands of people in Alabama already homebrew, they’ve been breaking the law, in fact committing what legally a felony.

The soon-to-be Alabama law is more restrictive than many. It limits production to 60 gallons of beer, wine, cider or mead in a calendar year, compared to 200 gallons in some states. Those who live in dry counties or cities cannot homebrew at all. Small amounts (10 gallons or less) of homebrewed wine and beer may be transported to sanctioned competitions and craft beer shows.

“Homebrewing has been an integral part of the history of America, so it’s thrilling to know that soon all 50 states will support this growing hobby and long-standing tradition,” said Gary Glass, director, American Homebrewers Association. “We appreciate the backing of all of the homebrewers, the dedicated grassroots efforts of Right to Brew and the legislators who have worked so diligently to make homebrewing a reality in Alabama. We are especially grateful to Representative Mac McCutcheon who introduced this bill and has fought long and hard for its passage, along with Senator Bill Holtzclaw.”


Homebrewing now legal in Mississippi

Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant has signed a bill that will effectively legalize homebrewing throughout the state. Mississippi is now the 49th state to permit homebrewing. A Senate version of the bill passed in early February and it was then voted on by the State House of Representatives in March.

“From our founding fathers to our current President, this country has a long and storied tradition of homebrewing,” said Gary Glass, director of the American Homebrewers Association. “We appreciate the support of all of the homebrewers, the dedicated grassroots efforts of Raise Your Pints and the legislators who have worked so diligently to make homebrewing a reality in Mississippi. We are grateful to Senator John Horhn who introduced this bill and to Governor Bryant for his quick action and support.”

The 21st Amendment predominantly leaves regulation of alcohol to the states. Therefore, even though homebrewing is federally legal, it is still up to individual states to legalize homebrewing in state codes. Prior to today’s announcement, Mississippi and Alabama were the only two states that did not allow homebrewing. The AHA will continue working with homebrewers in Alabama to legalize homebrewing.

The hobby of homebrewing has seen exponential growth in recent years. The AHA estimates that more than 1 million Americans brew beer or make wine at home at least once a year. Mississippi is home to an estimated 2,200 homebrewers who may now enjoy brewing without the restrictions of a state-wide ban.