Homebrewing the Zymatic Way

Having met, and published, Mr. Conn’s writings before, The Professor found this review of this piece of equipment interesting. For any extra comments from Mr. Conn, please go to hie blog-PGA

I’ve been homebrewing for 17 years and in that time have brewed about 475 batches of beer. Nearly every one of those batches has been on my “Cheap’n’Easy” cooler mash tun system, as I chanted the mantra “The brewer makes the beer, the equipment doesn’t”. While I still love my cooler system, I may have to rethink that mantra.

The good folks at Picobrew (www.picobrew.com) sent me a Zymatic system to try out and I have really changed my opinion about the role of your brewing gear. Sure, “Cheap’n’Easy” still works great, but the Zymatic represents something stunning both in functionality and design. It’s been referred to as the “Keurig of Homebrewing” and while it’s not exactly that, it is a new, different, exciting way to make beer at home.

The Zymatic is a gleaming stainless box approximately 20.5″x14.5″x17″ in size. There’s an opening in the front where you insert what they refer to as the “step filter”. The step filter is a plexiglass box with screens above and below where you place up to 9 lb. of grain. At the back of the step filter are 4 containers for hops or adjuncts. Each container can hold up to an ounce of whole hops. It can also use pellet hops if that’s your preference. On the right side of the Zymatic are 2 connections for tubing that terminates in ball lock connections. One piece of tubing has an inline filter to make sure pieces of grain don;t get through and clog things. The other has a sample port so you can take gravity samples. On the top front of the unit are the power switch, an OLED display, and a know for selecting the recipe or cleaning mode you want to use. The heavy duty power cord is on the back and thoughtfully terminates in ground fault protector..in my opinion, a must when using electricity and water! It’s an indication of the attention to detail that’s found in every piece of the equipment that’s included. Also on the back are connections for ethernet and USB. It sells for $1999.

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Belgian Beer: You’re Probably Doing It Wrong


A Belgian brewer once blew my mind by telling me that he was using the equivalent of Safale US-05 American ale yeast. He was understandably reluctant to let that information slip out. American yeast doesn’t make Belgian beer, does it? Well, of course it does. If it’s made in Belgium.

Ronald Mengerink’s brewery Dochter van de Korenaar provides an interesting case. It’s in Baarle Hertog, which quirky history made into a Belgian enclave surrounded by Dutch soil. Also, Mengerink is Dutch. His yeast is American, mostly. His beers are Belgian anyway—and not just because of where they are made. His sense of balance, attenuation—yes, he employs a multistep mash—and ample carbonation help to make the case. A dose of eccentricity and packaging with panache don’t hurt either.

Key Stats on a Few Belgian Favorites

Using the best information available—directly from the brewers when possible—here are selected metrics on a few well-known Belgian ales.


Mash schedule
142°F (61°C) for 15 minutes
154°F (68°C) for 25 minutes
162°F (72°C) for 30 minutes
and 170°F (77°C) for 10 minutes before sparging at 170°F (77°C)

IBUs: 38
Carbonation: 5.0 volumes

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New Cazenovia hops processing and distribution center in Cazenovia to serve all of CNY region


Cazenovia — After spending two months crossing the Atlantic Ocean from Germany, waiting in the port of New York City and braving the cold and snowy roads of Upstate New York, The Wolf recently arrived in Cazenovia.

The Wolf is not an animal or a person, but an 11.5-ton hops harvester/picker that is now permanently in place on a Rathbun Road hops farm in Cazenovia. It will be the foundation of The Bineyard — a new hops cooperative and distribution center that has plans to be the main hops processing and distribution facility in the CNY region.

The Bineyard will be an aggregator of high-quality hops, which is a benefit to both the local farmers — it lowers their barrier to entry so they don’t have to invest the capital in expensive harvesting and processing equipment — and local brewers — they won’t have to make relationships with numerous small farmers, but can come to one place for their local, New York State-grown hops. This all benefits the buy local, buy New York state efforts, and supports the New York State Farm Brewery initiative,” said Chad Meigs, local hops growing expert and proprietor, along with his wife Kate Brodock, of The Bineyard.

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Tom Becham Reviews: The Breury’s Jardinier

jardinier2-167x480I’ve been a fan of The Bruery since I first discovered their beers (within a year of them opening for business). They make a great many sour ales, barrel-aged offerings, and strong Belgian styles. They make everything with a flair and panache not often found in new start-up brewers. And The Bruery has won many awards for their beers, thus far.

I recently spied a new Bruery offering on the shelves of a local BevMo store. Named Jardinier (the French word for “gardener”), the label describes this beer as a “Golden Belgian table beer”. At only 4.9% ABV, it certainly would be a lighter brew, worth pairing with most meals. Naturally, I had to give it a try.

On pouring, the beer is a very pale gold, almost looking like one of the industrial lagers that control most of the beer market. Fortunately, the similarity ends there. There is a quick, fizzy carbonation on pouring, which soon settles into a finger-and-a-half of head. It doesn’t stick around long, but the lacing lasts for the entire drinking experience.

The aroma is a blast of hops, smelling almost exactly like lemon blossom, with a slight undertone of grain. This seems, at first, to be a hop-bomb.

Upon, first sip, yes, it IS a hop bomb. Well, somewhat. You see, the lemon blossom smell carries into the flavor. It is a citrus rind bitterness that introduces itself to the palate first. But it doesn’t have much of a lingering finish and dissipates rather quickly. Oddly, the hop bitterness actually DECREASES as the beer warms, with a grainy maltiness coming to the fore.

Overall, I would say that if you are a fan of The Bruery’s “extreme beers”, you may not like this one. On the other hand, if you like an extremely well-executed summer refresher, or even a beer to pair with spicy meals, Jardinier fulfills that role as well or better than anything else you may find on the shelves. I heartily recommend it.

TomBTom Becham. Tom Becham who? You mean that guy who lives in Oxnard, CA? Reviews beer and brew related businesses? Is always posting to Facebook all that liberal gunk and how his co-workers are weird or irritating or… TOM BECHAM?????????????

NO idea who you’re talking about. 😉