Genetically Engineered Yeast Yields More Than Beer


Genetic engineering and synthetic biology are making it easier to create everything from food ingredients to scents using unexpected sources.

That’s where genetically engineered yeast comes in. A recent article in the New York Times explored its larger implications and how companies like Amyris continue to push the scope of what engineered yeast can produce.

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Beer Profile: Straight to Ale’s Dark Planet


Profiled by Ken Carman for

Not enough scores to score on RB or BA. Not listed on their site, but found on a FB page run by them…

Here is what the brewery says about this beer…

“Dark Planet is a rich, earthy, English style ale that checks in at 9% ABV. Deceptively smooth and complex with hints of caramel, molasses, and dark fruit, a great beer for the fall season.”

Big light tan head that fades fast: little pillow, more bubble/big rock head. The srm is probably 18 or so, brown ale-ish. Good clarity with very nice highlights: deep ruby-ish/garnet.

The nose is carmelized sweetness with slight hopping noticed: so background hard to tell.

Firm bitter in both the taste and the mouthfeel, but to be honest this beer fails with balance. I get the caramel, molasses (very slight, not as much fruit: maybe hint of plum, but there’s a balance problem here.) The abv hits you hard and competes way too much with the rest. Harsh on the roof of the mouth, and the palate, and on the Beer-Profile1-258x300
way down. Not undrinkable by any means, but it simply ruins what would be an otherwise incredible experience. Keep the abv but even more sweet grain, more likely less hops. Cut down on bitter, combines with harsh abv in slight problematic ways. Medium body that hangs in the mouth after swallow.

“Smooth?” Uh: NO.

Note: English ale? Where do they get English ale from? Well, if the abv was less it might be more “English,” but I’d have to have it that way to be sure. English ales I’ve had have always been more about balance than this. The hops are, perhaps, Fuggles-ish. I get some “earthy,” but way in the background.

Personally I’d take this into Scottish Heavy territory because it doesn’t quite work. But they have one of those already. Another solution, maybe the best is bring it to 7abv. There are no higher alcohols I can sense here, but even when not “higher,” too much for balance is problematic.

Great brewery, and I hate to do it, but a three. Needs work, guys.


Welcome to the PGA beer rating system: one beer “Don’t bother.” Two: Eh, if someone gives it to you, drink. Three: very good, go ahead and seek it out, but be aware there is at least one problem. Four: seek it out. Five: pretty much “perfecto.”

More Pour into Craft Beer Market, but it’s not a Bubble

As the beer industry descended on Denver for the Great American Beer Festival, signs of the craft beer boom were all around.

In attendance were more than 630 breweries, the lucky ones able to quickly snag a spot before registration closed in just an hour and 40 minutes. Hundreds more breweries were on the wait list.

The brewers in Denver represented just a portion of the more than 2,500 breweries operating in the United States—the most since Prohibition. What’s more, there are 1,500 other breweries in the planning stage.

With all the growth, many in the craft beer industry attending the festival frequently turned to the same question: How far can the craft boom go?

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Critics Slam Brewery’s Dallas Blonde Beer for Promoting “Rape Culture”

The Deep Ellum Brewing Co.’s Dallas Blonde beer  says the drink ‘goes down easy.’

The Deep Ellum Brewing Co.’s Dallas Blonde beer says the drink ‘goes down easy.’

A Texas brewery has sparked outrage with an advertisement for its Dallas Blonde beer, which it says “goes down easy.”

Deep Ellum Brewing Co. is under fire for its controversial promo campaign to mark the alcoholic brew’s first birthday.

Critics say bosses are relying on “rape culture,” with the catchphrase and logo of a doll wearing a blond wig to sell the product.

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MAP: America’s Favorite Beers by State

This is depressing… PGA


When it comes to beer, the northeast loves Sam Adams, Pennsylvania opts for its native Yuengling, and California picks Corona.

Blowfish, a “hangover cure” that promises relief after a night of heavy drinking, recently conducted a poll with AMP, a third-party research firm, to learn about people’s drinking habits across the U.S. The survey included 5,249 drinkers over the age of 21 from all 50 states and Washington, D.C.

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Beer 101, Session 3

Written by Tom Becham for

tbecham and sibsIn my long-ago first installment, I discussed the first ingredient of beer: water.

Now I wish to discuss grain.

Grain is what differentiates a beverage as beer. A fermented fruit beverage is a wine, a fermented honey beverage is mead, and fermented grain is beer. (So, technically, sake’ is not rice wine, but rice beer.)

Generally, the grain used in beer will be barley. To be most useful in beer, the barley must be malted. (And is often simply referred to by brewers as “malt”.) Malting, specifically, refers to the process whereby barley grains are soaked in water just to the point of germination. The barley is then dried with hot air, and any sprouts trimmed from it. The malted barley (or malt; remember?) is then roasted to a degree that will produce the effects on a beer that a brewer desires.

Why is any of that important? Because….
Continue reading “Beer 101, Session 3”

Hop Notes


Sip a beer, ale, stout or porter and after that first cool refreshing sensation the sweet grain flavors bloom and make good on the promises of the aromatics experienced just before you took that first sip. Then there is another flavor that can take a bit of looking for. Should you be sipping something called an India Pale Ale brewed in the United States or Canada you might find the roasted grain flavors hard to find, replaced by perhaps the flavor of grapefruit of lemon zest. If the India Pale Ale was brewed in the United Kingdom the flavors might resemble blackberry or a sharp mineral tang. Welcome to the world of hops.

Before I go any further let’s get two things understood to be indisputable information. First; the use of hops to flavor/preserve fermented malt beverages was first done by brewers in the Low Countries of the European Continent. Today this area is claimed by the Dutch and Luxemburgish. The second item is that a king of England did not decree the use of hops to be a capital crime. He simply imposed an onerous tax on the use of the herb. These two items of information can be verified by consulting the Royal Society of Chemists. I would be pleased to provide more sources for those interested in contesting the above.

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Pucker Up, America: Beers Are Going Sour

Do you think you can handle the sour side of beer?


Move over, bitter IPAs and chocolaty stouts. There’s a new kid on the craft brewing block, and it’s going to knock your salivary glands into action.

They’re called “sour beers.” When you take a sip, it’s like biting into a Granny Smith apple that’s soaked in a French red wine: crisp, refreshing and a bit odd.

Sour beers are probably the oldest style of brewski in the world, but they’re just starting to get popular in the States. They were all the buzz at this year’s Great American Beer Festival. And with hundreds of brewers now dabbling in sours, it’s easier than ever to find them at a local bar or grocery store.

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Brewer’s Profile: Phil Snyder


Profiled by Ken Carman for

 Sitting in a back room, near the back porch: I could hear birds outside the closed glass door… and even hear them on the recording device I used when I reviewed our conversation days later. This is truly Tennessee countryside.
 The Liz and Phil Snyder estate in White House, Tennessee, gently slopes down to a small creek, then back up to the hill where the hop garden is. I find it odd how you look at grass, a stream, a hop garden, grapes vines: and they seem as if they’re just natural; been there for a long, long time. That’s how I feel about Phil Snyder as a member of Music City Brewers. Phil and the club just seemed to fit together.
 But Phil’s story is more interesting than that. Born in Defiance, Ohio, Phil’s family quickly moved to Fort Wayne, Indiana, “when I was just a little tyke,” where his father had taken a job.
 He started with wine and made his first batch in 1969. At a wine convention in DC; about 1980, Phil was staying at a friend’s house who had a fridge full of beer and a six pack of Anchor Steam.
 “I tasted that and I knew I had to start brewing.”
 His first batch was about 1979 or 1980, just after home brewing was made legal.
 “We had a big wine club up in Fort Wayne and I was president of that several

Grapes for Phil's wine
Grapes for Phil’s wine
times. Just on the side some of them were making beer. It wasn’t as popular back then: you couldn’t get any supplies; you had to get Blue Ribbon extract from the grocery store and Red Star Baker’s Yeast. I don’t remember what we used for hops. There were no homebrew shops or places to order supplies.” Continue reading “Brewer’s Profile: Phil Snyder”