Editors' Picks: From New Hops to Smart Airlocks

Our editors are always on the lookout for new products of interest to brewers and beer enthusiasts. From Sultana to Plaato, here are our picks from the October-November 2019 issue.

Craft Beer & Brewing Staff Nov 23, 2019 - 6 min read

Editors' Picks: From New Hops to Smart Airlocks Primary Image

X06277 “Denali” Gets a Proper Name as Hopsteiner Sultana

“New” hops are being named at a breakneck pace as hops growers and brokers try to keep up with brewers’ and drinkers’ desire for new and exciting flavors. The latest to move from experimental to name brand, Hopsteiner’s Sultana (formerly experimental hop #06277 and known briefly as Denali) claims parentage from Nugget, Zeus, and a USDA experimental hop and produces flavors described as pineapple and bright citrus with a resinous pine note as well.

The high oil content (2.5–4.0 ml/100g) makes for hops that pack a decent punch within an overall blend, and the high yield (significantly higher than many other popular aroma varieties) makes it agronomically efficient for growers.

“We use a lot of Sultana (formerly Denali) in our Dreamyard IPA and many of our other IPAs.,” says Keigan Knee, head brewer and co-owner of Modist Brewing in Minneapolis, Minnesota. “The flavor to me has alway been in the sweet ripe pineapple realm. It can get a little pine dankness when used in the boil or whirlpool in larger amounts. I combine it with Citra in Dreamyard, which makes for an awesome blend of bright tangerine/lychee citrus up front and heavy, drippy pineapple citrus on the end. It’s a very oil-heavy hop and provides a strong flavor/aroma and mouthfeel that pairs well with bright hops flavors/aromas. It helps smooth out the earthy bite in Galaxy and Vic Secret hops while taking dankness to another level when combined with Strata from Indie Hops. Overall, I’ve loved the Sultana hop over the past 3 years.” —JB


The Guide to Craft Beer


Resources that make the obscure details and myriad confusing styles of craft beer more accessible to casual audiences are all high on our list of suggestions, and this latest book from Brewers Publications does exactly that—clearly and simply walks through beer styles in understandable language. The goal, of course, is to encourage exploration. Like a friendly bartender who offers “if you like this, you might like that, too,” the guide offers a framework for self-directed discovery.

The tasting log section may be a bit of filler (who writes those notes down in a book anymore?), but we’ll happily overlook that for this well-priced book, prime for gift giving to the casual craft-beer fan in your life. —JB

Rastal Craft Master One 6.5 oz Taster



We taste quite a bit of beer in the Craft Beer & Brewing Magazine® office, and over the years have used (and broken) a truly impressive number of different taster glasses in the process.

For the past several years, however, all of our blind tasting and reviews have been conducted with one taster glass—the 6.5 oz Craft Master One manufactured by Rastal and sold customized in the United States by Grandstand.

It’s the perfect glass for tasting smaller amounts of beer, as the small base and wide bowl allow for an easy swirl to release aroma, while the flared lip provides a gentle path from glass to tongue. Despite being thin, the walls have proven sturdier than many other tasters we’ve used. And the weighted base is thoughtfully designed to keep them from falling over—we move them from kitchen to conference room on a standard bar tray with no issues.

For breweries running tasting panels, clubs running competitions, or any scenario where consistent and quality tasting glasses are necessary, the Craft Master One should be at the top of your list. —JB


Plaato Airlock


One of the biggest advantages professional brewers have over homebrewers is access to data that helps them achieve consistent results, over and over again. Every batch is a learning process, and breweries measure and log progress during fermentation to gauge factors such as yeast health, temperature impact, and more.

But it’s one thing to pull daily samples when you’ve got a 15 bbl fermentor full of beer, and another when your vessel is filled with 5 gallons. The Plaato Airlock offers a clever and non- invasive approach to remotely monitoring and storing your fermentation data, so you can track data like the pros. Given the fermentation activity, it allows you to make decisions regarding temperature settings, hops schedules, transfer timing, and more without the risk of pulling a sample from your fermentor and exposing your beer to oxygen or reducing the net volume of your small batch.

We found the device itself to be easy to assemble, set up, and start brewing with, requiring only a WiFi connection and power to easily sync with the mobile app. From there, enter your batch size and starting gravity and you’re off. The device monitors and graphs estimated gravity, ambient temperature, and alcohol level.

The data can also be pushed to some of your favorite brewing apps (Grainfather, Brewfather, Brewer’s Friend, and more) to track batch-by-batch variations in your brew. The accuracy of the device was relatively close (within .005) to the analog tools used during testing. The app interface could use a little polish, and we wish there were a way to directly track wort/beer temperature in addition to ambient, but all-in-all, it’s a useful and attractively priced tool to measure the progress of the most important stage in brewing. —HS