Spontaneous fermentation is seeing a big surge among breweries. It’s a method beer, cider, wine and liquor makers should consider because spontaneous fermentation is a sign that the brewer is confident in their technique, willing to trust the uncontrolled aspects of the fermentation process and having fun, says Bon Appetit magazine. Also known as hands-off, natural or traditional fermentation, it’s the oldest form of fermentation, used before fermentation could be controlled and regulated.

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New product BrewMonitor System integrates the Internet of Things (IoT) with craft beer production. BeerMonitor is a high-tech device that sits in fermentation tanks and takes real-time measurements. Brewers can then monitor tank conditions from their smart device, without ever opening the tank. Created by Precision Fermentation, a biochemistry technology provider, BeerMonitor will launch next month with the tagline “If your tanks could talk.”

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A New York senator is pushing change for federal alcohol regulators to ease up on hard ciders. Cider owners cannot legally sell hard cider with an alcoholic content below 7% in cans, forcing them to use wine containers instead. This hurts most quality, fermented apple ciders, the senator argues, because they must water down their product to sell it in cans.

Read more (WXXI) Photo by CNY News

Lawmakers from Oregon and Colorado are advocating for a new bill that would modernize outdated federal alcohol taxes. Known as the KOMBUCHA Act (Keeping our Manufacturers from Being Unfairly Taxed while Championing Health Act), the bill aims to increase the ABV for kombucha from 0.5 percent to 1.25 percent so kombucha can be sold as a non-alcoholic beverage. Currently, many kombucha brewers are forced to pay an alcohol tax and abide by regulations intended for the alcohol industry. Kombucha Brewers International is lobbying for the bipartisan bill. You can signup to track the bill here, at congress.gov.

Read more (Kombucha Brewers International) & Read more (Sen. Ron Wyden, D-OR)

Should kombucha be sold next to alcohol or soft drinks? Numerous big-name kombucha brands are under fire for alleged false advertising. Tortilla Factory (the parent company behind Kombucha Dog) is suing Trader Joe’s, Better Booch, Makana Beverages and Rowdy Mermaid Kombucha for supposedly violating the law by exceeding the 0.5% abv threshold. Tortilla Factory used a third-party lab to test the alcohol levels of the brands, and found their abv at 0.6-2.7%. Kombucha Dog is one of few kombucha brands that is sold as alcohol (it contains 1.4% abv), and they claim in the lawsuit that the mislabeling of the accused brands is unfair competition since most consumers will purchase a drink with lower abv. This is the second time Kombucha Dog has brought a lawsuit against kombucha brands. Earlier this year, they sued Health Ade and Humm Kombucha for understating their sugar content, allegedly putting double the amount of sugar in the drinks as the label states.

Read more (Food Navigator)

JuneShine – the world’s first hard kombucha brewery – was started by surfer friends who wanted a transparent, healthy alcohol brand for active people. The organic kombucha has 6% ABV, and launched their brand in May by opening a permanent tasting room in San Diego.

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Toast Ale is brewing to curb food waste. The beer makers take unsold loaves or heels of bread from bakers, then use that fermented bread to brew award-winning beer. The founders estimate 44% of bread is thrown out. 100% of their profits go to Feedback, a nonprofit campaigning against food waste.

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Discovering “the weirdest, funkiest yeast” to ferment is the latest movement in the brewery world. Brewers are fermenting beer from yeast strands found on beer bottles in shipwrecks and old European cellars. The beer comes with a story, a historic element that appeals to customers curiosity and taste buds.

Read more (The Wall Street Journal)

Increasing wine consumption makes China critical to the future of the industry, but trade disputes are hurting U.S. winemakers. China included wine on a list of potential tariffs. Exports represent 5% of US wine sales – 5% of that ($79 million worth) is sent to China.

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A Colorado food artisan is combining two popular fermented favorites: pickles and alcohol. Colorado Liquor Pickles creates their unique, boozy flavors with craft spirits from local breweries and distilleries. The cucumbers are also from organic, CO farmers.

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