Southern Brew News October/November 2012 : Page 1

Takes local to a new level By Win Bassett FLOOR IT. Brian Simpson and Craig Weitzel removing the grain from steeping to the germination floor at Riverbend Malt House. M PHOTOS BY: DOUG TAYLOR Celebrates First Birthday with Cans and ’Que By Don Beistle CAN DO. Bundling of six-packs and packing cases at Red Hare is a breeze with their new cnning line. PHOTOS BY DON BEISTLE t’s a fair bet that all of us have popped the top on a can of beer or two to celebrate a birthday. But when the folks at Red Hare Brewing in Marietta, GA got ready to celebrate that brewery’s first birthday, they treated them-selves to a new 30-can-per-minute canning line. Red Hare opened its doors to the public Labor Day weekend 2011 and was a draft-only brewery for most of its first year. “We planned to can our beer right from the start,” says head brewer Bobby Thomas. “Cans go anywhere—you can pack them, take them on a boat or to the pool. They’re light and they recycle. “And,” he emphasized, “cans resist light and oxidation better than bottles. So you get fresher beer.” An automated canning line from Canada’s Cask Brewing Systems finally arrived at the end of June, and by mid-July cans of Red Hare’s flagship Long Day Lager (4.9% ABV) were showing up in stores around metro-Atlanta and Athens. For now, only Long Day is being canned. But “Malting pro-vides the missing link between the farmer and the brew-ing industry that has been missing for a long time,“says Brent Manning, co-founder of Riverbend Malt House in Asheville, North Carolina. He and his business partner, Brian Simpson, started to convert barley into malt in 2010, and now two years into their venture, two of the few, traditional floor micro-malsters in the country are busier than ever provid-ing the state’s brewers, and possibly distill-ers, with locally-grown, artisan malt. Both Manning and Simpson had stable careers as environmental consultants in the same firm in Wilmington, North Carolina. Manning focused on stream and wetland restoration proj-ects, and Simpson similarly worked as a hydrogeologist. The two also managed Cape Fear Biofuels, a biodiesel coopera-tive, in their free time. Simpson moved to Asheville to work for the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy through Americorps, how-ever, and “a conversation about the brew-ing scene and sustainability sparked some research into using local grains in local beer,“he recalls. A craft beer fan since the mid-1990s when he would make runs from the coast to Greenshields Brewery & Pub in I six-packs of Gangway IPA (6.2% ABV) are expected to follow “by the end of the year.” Quite a Sight Red Hare’s canning line is quite a sight, looking for all the world like an amusement park for tiny cylindrical robots. The ride begins as a layer of empty cans is See Red Hare p. 3 See Riverbend p. 4 INSIDE Letter From Editor ..............2 Calendar .............................2 Dr. Brewski .........................6 Homebrew News ................7 Tasting Notes .....................8 Style .................................10 Maps & Directories ..... 12-15 State by State News Louisiana .................. 11 Georgia ..................... 16 Alabama/Mississippi 18 Tennessee ................ 19 The Carolinas ........... 20 Florida ...................... 22

Riverbend Malt House

Win Bassett

Takes local to a new level

FLOOR IT. Brian Simpson and Craig Weitzel removing the grain from steeping to the germination floor at Riverbend Malt House.

Malting provides the missing link between the farmer and the brewing industry that has been missing for a long time,“says Brent Manning, co-founder of Riverbend Malt House in Asheville, North Carolina. He and his business partner, Brian Simpson, started to convert barley into malt in 2010, and now two years into their venture, two of the few, traditional floor micro-malsters in the country are busier than ever providing the state’s brewers, and possibly distillers, with locally-grown, artisan malt.

Both Manning and Simpson had stable careers as environmental consultants in the same firm in Wilmington, North Carolina. Manning focused on stream and wetland restoration projects, and Simpson similarly worked as a hydrogeologist. The two also managed Cape Fear Biofuels, a biodiesel cooperative, in their free time.

Simpson moved to Asheville to work for the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy through Americorps, however, and “a conversation about the brewing scene and sustainability sparked some research into using local grains in local beer,“he recalls. A craft beer fan since the mid-1990s when he would make runs from the coast to Greenshields Brewery & Pub in Raleigh to pick up beer, he thought “it was odd that the most locally-minded city in the state only used local water in their local beer. The grain was going to have to be malted by somebody!”

The Spark

That spark led to a meeting with Molly Hamilton, Extension Assistant and Project Coordinator with the North Carolina Organic Grain Project at North Carolina State University. And due to the “downturn in the housing market,” says Manning, “the environmental consulting business was hit pretty hard.” He needed to find “career 2.0,” and he wanted to be in the craft beer industry, in part, because “everyone I’ve met has a great sense of humor and laid back approach to life in general.”

Manning and Simpson planted the seeds for Riverbend by malting in Simpson’s basement in Asheville with research grains obtained from North Carolina State University. Simpson remembers, “Even those malts made a great beer, so we started developing the business plan. We knew that to make this project work, it needed to be a full-time endeavor.” Fortunately, they also had the help of a third partner, Julie Jensen, owner of Echoview Farm in Weaverville, North Carolina. “Julie really helped move things forward with her great sustainable business mindset,” says Simpson.

It wasn’t long before Manning and Simpson realized that they had a lot to learn. The two spent three weeks in Winnipeg, Canada, at the Canadian Malting Barley Technical Centre. Manning recalls that “each day would begin with four to five hours of lecture, followed by an afternoon Of work in the lab.” “It was like getting a degree in malting, fifty hours a week, from biochemistry to hands-on lab work,” says Simpson. The two were determined to learn how to create the highest-quality product possible through traditional floor malting techniques, so they also visited Copper Fox Distillery in Sperryville, Virginia, to do everything from chop wood for the kiln to rake grain.

Thriving Brewery Scene

Manning and Simpson returned to Asheville with a wealth of knowledge and a hunger for the “burgeoning DIY economy and thriving brewery scene,” says Manning. Convincing local brewers to use their malt after staying up and raking throughout many nights was difficult at first. “We had a lot of challenges at the start,” states Simpson. “Six-row barley suffers from a bit of an image problem, but we’ve been able to overcome those hurdles through education.” Manning agrees that “once brewers move past the six-row barley stereotype and realize the importance of using local products to create really unique beers, they are hooked.”

And so far, over a dozen breweries in North Carolina have used Riverbend’s malt to brew various-sized batches of quality beer. Pisgah Brewing Co. In Black Mountain, North Carolina, has used its neighbor’s six-row, two-row, rye, and wheat malts to brew multiple ten-barrel batches of its Steep Canyon Ale, Wet Hop Rye, and Riverbend Brown. Jason Caughman, President of Pisgah, says that “a malt house startup in Asheville rocks. The quality is high; the barley is from North Carolina; and it’s organic. That’s right up our alley.” In fact, Caughman notes that most of the beer he’s sending to the Great American Beer Festival this year is “North Carolina ingredient-sourced.”

” Similarly, Fullsteam Brewery in Durham, North Carolina, is another, and possibly the largest, Riverbend customer. Its One Hop Rye IPA uses 150 pounds of North Carolina rye that was grown in Sanford and malted at Riverbend, and the brewery’s El Toro Cream Ale uses 600 pounds of Riverbend’s six-row barley and 60 pounds of North Carolina corn grits. “El Toro used to be 10% local and 90% German pils malt, says Fullsteam founder Sean Lilly Wilson, but “now, its grain bill is 100% North Carolina. That’s really exciting.”

Other than the obvious benefits of sourcing locally, “taste-wise, the beers (and the grain) speaks for themselves,” Wilson continues. He admits that Riverbend’s product is more expensive than other commercial grains, “but we’ve had full confidence that customers will pay a little extra for quality.” And Manning and Simpson have seen this close attention to detail pay off. They recently hired a part-time assistant maltster, Craig Weitzel. “He is learning how to malt from the ground up so we can focus on growing the business and taking care of our new baby girls,” says Simpson, who just welcomed his first-born into the world, along with Manning and his wife.

Looking Forward

The two longtime friends and business partners don’t plan on relaxing the rakes anytime soon, however. Manning says that “we’re looking forward to beer releases from Natty Greene’s, Fullsteam, Pisgah, Holy City, Aviator, and the Wedge over the next few months.” Riverbend also plans to attend the Kingsport, Tennessee, and Charlotte, North Carolina, Oktoberfest events this fall.

Wilson of Fullsteam and Caughman of Pisgah see something special in Riverbend and similarly can’t wait to work more with the duo by encompassing a larger amount of Riverbend’s malt into their beers. “They have been really fun to work with and are really getting their process honed and enhanced,” says Caughman. “They may have to source more barley now that the word’s out.” Wilson shares those sentiments, claiming that “Riverbend is a quiet revolution. Craft breweries get a lot of attention for sourcing local, making outrageous beers, pushing the envelope, etc., but Brian and Brent are the quiet heroes of the local beer movement.”

Read the full article at http://sbnonline.brewingnews.com/article/Riverbend+Malt+House/1201372/129289/article.html.

Red Hare Brewing

Don Beistle

Celebrates First Birthday with Cans and ’Que

CAN DO. Bundling of six-packs and packing cases at Red Hare is a breeze with their new cnning line.

It’s a fair bet that all of us have popped the top on a can of beer or two to celebrate a birthday. But when the folks at Red Hare Brewing in Marietta, GA got ready to celebrate that brewery’s first birthday, they treated themselves to a new 30-can-per-minute canning line.

Red Hare opened its doors to the public Labor Day weekend 2011 and was a draftonly brewery for most of its first year.

“We planned to can our beer right from the start,” says head brewer Bobby Thomas.“Cans go anywhere—you can pack them, take them on a boat or to the pool. They’re light and they recycle.

“And,” he emphasized, “cans resist light and oxidation better than bottles. So you get fresher beer.” An automated canning line from Canada’s Cask Brewing Systems finally arrived at the end of June, and by mid-July cans of Red Hare’s flagship Long Day Lager (4.9% ABV) were showing up in stores around metro-Atlanta and Athens. For now, only Long Day is being canned. But six-packs of Gangway IPA (6.2% ABV) are expected to follow “by the end of the year.”

Quite a Sight

Red Hare’s canning line is quite a sight, looking for all the world like an amusement park for tiny cylindrical robots. The ride begins as a layer of empty cans is swept off a pallet and onto a slanted tray 8 feet in the air. A chute narrows to the width of a single can, where the cans slip onto rails that corkscrew down to waist height. The cans are upright at the top, upsidedown when they pass through the rinser, and upright again when they land on the conveyor belt at the bottom.

A blast of carbon dioxide then blows beer-staling oxygen out of the cans, and a pillow of foam rises from them as they are filled five at a time. Next, a lid drops onto each can before it is pushed onto the carousel that takes it to the seamer, where it is spun like a top as the lid is sealed onto it.

One more turn of the carousel and a final conveyor belt leads to the packing table, where human hands bundle the cans into six-packs and send them on their way.

The Cask canning line is a proven system, the same used by Anderson Valley, Boulder and craft can-pioneer Oskar Blues as well as an ever-growing number of small brewers enamored of aluminum. Just three people are required to operate it: one to oversee the actual canning process and two to bundle the cans and pack the sixers into cases. It can crank out up to 75 cases of 12-oz. Cans an hour, though a finicky seamer kept Red Hare’s line moving well below top speed during my visit.

Great Expectations

“We expect to brew 3,000 barrels this year,” said Thomas as he rinsed down his 20-barrel brew kettle after finishing that day’s second batch of Long Day Lager. All signs point to continued growth. In a single year, Red Hare’s fermentation/ maturation capacity has nearly tripled. Lagering can tie up a fermenter two or three times longer than ale brewing, effectively reducing overall brewing capacity. An 80-barrel cylindroconical will bring Red Hare to an even 300 barrels this fall, plenty of room to ensure a steady supply of Long Day Lager and the occasional bottomfermented seasonal as well.

Next up is a grain silo, which will free up some space inside the brewery as well as reduce the cost of purchasing and handling truckloads of malt in 50-pound sacks. Then, says Thomas, “we’re going to have to expand the cellar again. I want to replace the bright tanks with jacketed tanks and get them out of the cellar.”

But what about beer? “I want to brew a ‘tropical fruit’ pale ale,” answered Thomas. “Like a jasmine-infused IPA?” I asked. No, he explained, a sessionable ale brewed with some of the aromatic new hop varieties that fairly explode with scents of kiwi, lychee, papaya and other exotic fruits. “I really want to try some Nelson Sauvin” hops, he said. “I don’t mind if we’re not 100% consistent,” he added. Playing with new hops is part of the charm of craft brewing.

Happy Birthday

Red Hare threw their birthday party a couple weeks early on Saturday, August 18. But who could blame them for jumping the gun? There’s plenty to celebrate: the new canning line, the burgeoning sales and production figures, and then to top it off a gold medal for their saison (Rabbit’s Reserve #3) at the United States Open Beer Championship. Not a bad first year by any measure.

Beer lovers were lining up outside the brewery a good hour before the party, despite looming thunder clouds. Besides Red Hare’s year-round offerings, a cask of dry-hopped Imperial Red IPA (9.4% ABV) and the debut of Oktoberfest (6% ABV) beckoned within.

When the gates opened, celebratory suds flowed in the tasting room and outdoors in the newly expanded kid-and-dogfriendly beer garden. Sublime tribute band Wrong Way was onstage, and Atlanta’s D. B.A. Barbecue provided a delicious counterpoint to Red Hare’s brews.

After the taps were turned off at the brewery, the party continued well into the night at Wild Wings and at Johnnie MacCracken’s Celtic Firehouse Pub. The whole city seemed to be celebrating “Marietta’s hometown brewery” on its birthday.

Read the full article at http://sbnonline.brewingnews.com/article/Red+Hare+Brewing/1201377/129289/article.html.

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