2013 Summary and 2014 Prospects

I finally had a day free and decided to try and write another post. I’ll focus on what’s been happening this past year and what will happen in the next one.

As you all have no doubt figured out, my PhD project has completely taken over my life, leaving no time for brewing or yeast ranching. Unfortunate as it is, it is also a very exciting time in my life full of both good and bad things.

Let’s recap what happened in the year 2013.

– First and foremost I want to apologize for not keeping the blog up and not answering emails. I honestly was so busy these last few months that I forgot about it completely and haven’t checked my email since around November. Yesterday I logged back in and found 182 emails from yeast enthusiasts asking me about yeast. I really feel terrible, guys. I’ll try to get back to as many of you as I can as soon as I can. Feel free to email me again just so that your letters are at the top of the list.

– Secondly, the response to the Cantillon Iris isolates has been overwhelmingly positive. Not only from around a hundred homebrewers, but professional brewers as well. Cory King of Perennial Ales and Side Project liked C1 strain enough to use it in a commercial batch and sent me a very nice gift package with his beers, including one made with C1, accompanied by a very warm letter saying he liked it so much he may make it his house Brettanomyces strain. Thank you Cory! You’re indeed a master of your craft and your beers are reserved as my “special occasion” beers and never disappoint. Brandon Jones of EmbraceTheFunk also made some beers with Yazoo Brewing which were released last year and seemed to have had a positive feedback. I didn’t actually imagine that my isolates would be used in commercial production at the time of isolation so this is really cool!

– Thirdly, some months ago I was contacted by the BeerAdvocate magazine regarding an interview for an article they were writing about homebrewer yeast ranchers. The article came out in the August issue and brought several new readers to this blog. I have enjoyed many a conversation with fellow yeast enthusiasts as a result and was able to help a few guys set up home labs.

– Fourthly, as many of you know, sometime around June last year I have finally managed to get my PhD project off the ground and it took off nicely. Just one of the hazards of starting your own project rather than directly continuing someone else’s experiments – it takes for ever to get things to work! After some snags along the way, I managed to optimize the experiments by September and it really took off. Working 7 days a week didn’t leave much time to do any brewing or ranching so I reserved to reading articles about beer and trying to post a couple Beer Science Reviews which were also received very well by the readers.

– Fifthly, I had a surgery in December and that took me out of the beer scene even further for a while. Everything went well, except for some letters from my insurance company informing me that they decided to cover just a tiny portion of the costs and apparently stuck me with an 18 thousand dollar debt. Happy holidays!

This should about sum up my adventures of 2013. Though it may not seem like a very busy year, it was both in terms of yeast ranching as well as other things. Site views went from around 14.6 thousand in 2012 to just over 61 thousand in 2013 though I don’t much care for how many people visit the site as long as at least some of them find my writing helpful. I strive to occupy a very small and specific niche in the homebrewing scene that is not very popular in the overall scheme of things simply due to its laborious, scientific and just technical nature and so don’t expect to ever be even remotely as popular as straight brewing and hop blogs. I’m not the only scientifically inclined homebrewer nor am I the only one who writes about his adventures in this field. We are few, we all know each other, and we help the homebrewing community little by little, often unrecognized, just like the scientists that we are. In any case, I would encourage my beer brothers to not be scared away by yeast and the amazing world of kitchen microbiology and give it a go. It is a wonderful adventure if you chose to take that road!

What’s going to happen in 2014?

The most important event is that I’ll be leaving Brooklyn and New York City altogether. Why? For Science! Our entire lab, including the staff and students is moving to SUNY Upstate Medical Center in early March 2014. It is located in Syracuse, NY which in a way takes me very close to my roots because I spent several years in that area as a boy and finished high school in a tiny rural school not too far from Syracuse. My graduating class was something like 16 people. Yes, the school is that small. What does that mean? It means that my life is very crazy right now. Between apartment hunting, getting the lab ready to move, working on my own project and other things, I have no time for absolutely anything at all. I will try to push out one more yeast release before leaving in March, but for a few weeks after that don’t be surprised to see no activity from me at all.

I will have to set up all my beer and yeast gear anew at the new place. Taking my bookshelf hood with me is not a viable option so I’ll have to make a new one. This may actually be a positive thing because I envision it as a sort of a small portable yeast ranching hood which may be more appealing to my readers rather than a stationary one and help them on the yeast ranching journey.

Do I actually plan to continue with homebrewing and yeast ranching? Absolutely! If anything, the move should give me plenty of free time because there is absolutely nothing to do in Syracuse and there is only so much science you can do every day before you start burning out. My prospective roommate, who is also my friend, coworker and a fellow student, is very sympathetic to the idea of having an unlimited supply of beer. There are also whispers of homebrewing professors up there as well, and I’ll have to investigate it further. Hopefully 2014 will be very productive and I’m looking forward to seeing what it brings.

I do hope there is a homebrewing store up there, preferably in the city since I do not anticipate having a car. I also hope to meet some of the local homebrewers and expand my brewing horizons over the approximate 3+ years I will be living there. If anyone knows anything about the homebrewing scene there, please let me know.

Wishing you have a very malty and hoppy year!