Southern Brew News December 2012/January 2013 : Page 1
Dec/Jan 2012/13 Vol.7 No.6 Kudzu DREAMSTIME New Southern Breweries Spreading Like By Owen Ogletree Green Room Brewing– A Jacksonville l Oasis By Jim Ritchhart ery assistant and his job included cleaning out kegs, cleaning the tap lines and washing out the brewing system. Although not the most glorious way to break into brewing, he enjoyed working in the brewery, and shortly after starting at South Southend, he started to home brew. hb bre ew As A time went on Lumen Lu um was asked to assist a ssi the head brewer with wit different parts of w the brewing process, and an when the oppor-tunity tu came to take the th helm as head brewer, he jumped at b the th chance. Naturally, his hi stint at Southend wasn’t totally devoid wa w of days and f challenging c events. even ts. Once, Once in preparation of a brew, he failed to attach the grain chute to the hopper and the next thing he knew he See Green Room p. 5 he Southeast has developed an insatiable, growing thirst for craft beer. In response, fueled mainly by fervent homebrewers wanting to turn their beloved hobby into a career, an impressive num-ber of upstart microbreweries and brewpubs are springing up from Louisiana to North Carolina. This exciting time for south-eastern craft beer drinkers also translates into a few challenges for both new and established brew-ers. An eager new microbrewery owner soon realizes the frustra-tions associated with locating used equipment, signing multiple-year hop con-tracts and securing a distributor in a mar-ket already filled with tasty brands. Once holding a majority of the craft beer market share, older breweries are now forced to work a little harder to continue to spark the imagination of a new generation of southern beer geeks. Are brewers worried or excited? Cautious or inspired? Optimistic or disconcerted? We chatted with brewery rep-resentatives from around the Southeast, getting a few of their thoughts on this brave new world of craft beer expan-sion in our neck of the woods. Green Room Brewing opened quietly in the spring of 2011, with the first beers com-ing on line in early summer, the culmina-tion of a long time dream of Eric Lumen, the head brewer and part owner of Green Room. When Lumen was asked ak d about his love for beer an and nd brewing and whether it was love at first sip, he responded, “No, my first beer was prob-ably something crappy in a can that I drank at my parents BBQ. First good beer was a Sierra Nevada in the late 90's and there was no going back.” Lumen started his br brew-rew-ing career in 2001 at Southend ut thend Brewery & Smokehouse which used to be located at Jacksonville Landing in downtown Jacksonville. He was a brew-G INSIDE Letter From Editor ......... 2 Dr. Brewski .....................6 Homebrew News ............ 7 Tasting Notes ................. 8 Calendar ......................... 9 Style Section ................10 State by State News Louisiana .......................11 Georgia ..........................16 Alabama/Mississippi .....18 Tennessee .....................19 The Carolinas ................20 Florida ...........................22 Competition is Key Most craft brewers in the Southeast view competition as positive. "The craft See Southern Breweries p. 4
New Southern Breweries Spreading Like
The Southeast has developed an insatiable, growing thirst for craft beer. In response, fueled mainly by fervent home brewers wanting to turn their beloved hobby into a career, an impressive number of upstart microbreweries and brewpubs are springing up from Louisiana to North Carolina.
This exciting time for southeastern craft beer drinkers also translates into a few challenges for both new and established brewers.An eager new microbrewery owner soon realizes the frustrations associated with locating used equipment, signing multiple-year hop contracts and securing a distributor in a market already filled with tasty brands. Once holding a majority of the craft beer market share, older breweries are now forced to work a little harder to continue to spark the imagination of a new generation of southern beer geeks.
Are brewers worried or excited? Cautious or inspired? Optimistic or disconcerted? We chatted with brewery representatives from around the Southeast, getting a few of their thoughts on this brave new world of craft beer expansion in our neck of the woods.
Competition is Key
Most craft brewers in the Southeast view competition as positive. "The craft beer industry has thrived because brewers strive to raise the bar in order to be recognized," notes Kevin McNerney of 5 Seasons brewpub in Atlanta. "When the bar is continuously raised, the craft beer consumer is intrigued and remains engaged. When the consumer is engaged, they demand more craft beer. Breweries that excel in quality will always have customers, and those that focus on non-quality issues will be forgotten.The moment you think there are too many breweries on the block, a young, new brewer with innovative ideas will inspire you."
The United States now boasts a record number of breweries - with hundreds of new applications being processed. Terrapin's John Cochran reports, "Our Georgia Craft Brewers Guild website went live last October, and within 24 hours we received five applications for 'breweries in planning' in Georgia alone - five in one day! For me, these potential new breweries represent another avenue in reaching the 80+% of the population who have never heard of or tried craft beer. This can only benefit the existing breweries."
Outdated alcohol laws and beer prejudices and misconceptions led to the Southeast being considered a craft beer wasteland for many years. Alabama and Mississippi are just beginning to emerge from these restraints, and brewers in these two states see competition from new craft breweries as totally welcome and completely positive. "We've been expecting and looking forward to the Mississippi craft beer 'explosion' for quite some time," says Leslie Henderson of Lazy Magnolia. "This means that new suppliers may set-up shop near me, or at least dedicate more customer service reps to our area. Store shelves in Mississippi still have a lot of room for new and exciting products. Many breweries are reluctant to distribute to our state at all, so we need to grow that variety right here at home."
Continued Spirit of Collaboration
Taylor Yates, head brewer for Georgia's new Burnt Hickory Brewery, agrees that the state's influx of fresh breweries produces more competition, but this progression necessitates renewed creativity, consistency and collaboration. "Collaborations between breweries both old and new should raise the bar for the current status quo for the consumer," Yates explains. "At the end of the day, the individual who stands to benefit the most from the current surge in new breweries is the craft beer drinker, and we brewers have a unique opportunity to concoct an exciting, new destination for craft beer lovers here in the Southeast."
NOLA Brewery in New Orleans feels that the craft industry is just beginning to take off in the Gulf South, and owner Kirk Coco expects continued, rapid craft beer expansion in the near future. "I see growth here until we hit the 35-40% market share that craft beer is seeing in the Pacific Northwest," he says. "The more craft breweries, the faster this expansion will occur - so we are very excited to see more breweries starting up and more varieties hitting the shelves. Collaboration has always been a cornerstone of the craft brewing guilds, and we will definitely continue to see this in brewing beers together and, most importantly, in drinking beers together!"
Brave New Brewing World
Devon Kreps of Tampa's Seventh Sun Brewing envisions the Southeast as soon equaling the beer cultures of Colorado, Oregon and California. "As craft grows in this region, with it will come even more innovative and inspired beers. The educated and curious consumer exists here, and many breweries outside of this region have already noticed."
Feeling optimism, balanced by a bit of caution, Spike Buckowski, co-owner and head brewer of Terrapin, expresses, "I think at this point the Southeast is wide open — just ask Sierra Nevada, Oskar Blues and New Belgium who are installing brewing plants in North Carolina. We have an awful lot of room to grow down here, but at some point there will be saturation. Just like in the late nineties, the bubble will burst and the 'foam of the crop' will rise to the top."
Linus Hall of Yazoo in Nashville adds, "If you look at how much capacity will be coming online from breweries located in the Southeast in just a few years, it's almost equivalent to what Sam Adams sells nationally right now. It's going to be an interesting next three or four years, but I think that brewers who have a strong local following will be fine."
It's All About Perspective
The Southeast may be in a hyper growth mode when it comes to new breweries, but the region as a whole remains in catch-up mode with most of the nation in regard to breweries per capita. "We're minting passionate new fans of craft beer on an hourly basis, and the market is still so immature," says Nick Purdy, president of Wild Heaven Craft Beers in Georgia.
"In the same way you don't know what a six-year-old kid will grow up to be, the future of the Southeast's craft beer market is mostly uncharted territory."
Jonathan Baker of Monday Night Brewing in Atlanta shares, "The Southeast has a unique culture with unique demographics, and we'd be lying to ourselves if we thought we knew how this exciting influx of new beers and breweries is going to impact the industry long-term. That said, we're one of these new entrants, so we obviously think there is still room and demand for southeastern beer, and we're excited for the future!"
Considered by many as a "founding father" of southern micro brewers, Highland Brewing's Oscar Wong still holds tremendous enthusiasm and optimism for the future of his pioneering North Carolina craft brewery. "The Southeast's late, but dramatic, arrival to the craft beer party will result in more competition and better beers with a uniquely southern twist," he states. "The region, the country and the world will see a resurgence of southern spirit in great beer.The South shall rise again!"
Green Room Grewing
A Jacksonville Oasis
Green Room Brewing opened quietly in the spring of 2011, with the first beers coming on line in early summer, the culmination of a long time dream of Eric Lumen, the head brewer and part owner of Green Room.
When Lumen was asked about his love for beer and brewing and whether it was love at first sip, he responded, “No, my first beer was probably something crappy in a can that I drank at my parents BBQ. First good beer was a Sierra Nevada in the late 90's and there was no going back.”
Lumen started his brewing career in 2001 at South end Brewery & Smokehouse which used to be located at Jacksonville Landing in downtown Jacksonville. He was a brewery assistant and his job included cleaning out kegs, cleaning the tap lines and washing out the brewing system. Although not the most glorious way to break into brewing, he enjoyed working in the brewery, and shortly after starting at South end, he started to home brew.
As time went on Lumen was asked to assist the head brewer with different parts of the brewing process, and when the opportunity came to take the helm as head brewer, he jumped at the chance. Naturally, his stint at South end wasn’t totally devoid of challenging days and events.
Once, in preparation of a brew, he failed to attach the grain chute to the hopper and the next thing he knew he had 700 pounds of malt all over the floor.This was during South end’s busy lunch hour, and the entire brewing set up was in a glass walled room in the center of the restaurant, in full view of the customers.
In order to further hone his brewing skills, Lumen took the Concise Course in Brewing Technology from the Seibel Institute in Chicago, and also attended biology classes at the University of North Florida.
After working 5 years at South end, the owners decided to break away from the South end partners, and start their own branded restaurant. After numerous problems with the changeover, Lumen heard that Seven Bridges Grille & Brewery (part of the Gordon Biersch chain) was looking for a head brewer, and in 2006 he became the head brewer there.
Over time, Lumen started talking to his uncle Mark Still man about opening his own brewery and the plans started to develop for Green Room. After finding a location in Jacksonville Beach (just two blocks from the ocean) Lumen discovered nearby Bold City Brewing was upgrading and their original brewing system was for sale. It appeared that everything was falling into place very nicely.
Asked about why he chose the beach area for a brewery, Luman said, “The beach was the only choice for us as both Mark and I are avid surfers and both live in the beaches area. There were no distributing breweries at the beach so we thought we had a great market here — although brewing 2 blocks off the beach can be distracting some days.”
Asked about his favorite beer styles Lumen said, “I love hopped up pale ales and session able IPA’s as well as anything sour.I’m particularly fond of anything hoppy, and the more the better — as long as there is balance.
“We have a couple of small batch sours beers that we are working on right now and will continue with the barrel aging as we go.We are doing some 100% Brett fermented beers that are coming out pretty interesting and we are also working with fruit on some of these beers as well. For the time being these will only be available in the tap room, but at some point we will be bottling these for take away.”
One of Lumen’s current challenges is his quest to try to brew more session style beers that are full-bodied and full-flavor with hop character and flavor but still low in alcohol.
But on the other the side of that equation, Lumen said, “We recently brewed a beer for the Mayan calendar that we will tap on December 21 and also release in bottles. It’s a 12% Imperial Red Ale brewed with Cassava root in the mash, Poblano and Serrano peppers in the boil, and pure chocolate.”
Recently, Lumen collaborated on a batch of beer with Bob Sylvester of St. Somewhere Brewing in Tarpon Springs.The new creation is called Sang de la Mer which loosely translates to Blood Sea.
“I have been a big fan of Bob since he opened Saint Somewhere, and we have kept his beer on tap at Green Room since the day we opened,” Lumen said. “ Bob was coming up for an event in Jacksonville and we decided we would do a tap takeover at Green Room the night before his event featuring six of his beer. We kept talking about it and it just kind of morphed into a brew, as well.
“The main thing I wanted to do for the collaboration was to use Bob’s house yeast.We incorporated local blood oranges and rosemary into a lighter saison.The rosemary and citrus come out nicely subtle while the yeast flavors dominate. There is a nice Bretty nose and a pleasant tartness at the finish.”
Lumen also has a bucket list of breweries he would love to visit, and his number one on the list would be Jolly Pumpkin in Michigan.
“I love all of their beers and would really like to see owner/brewer Ron Jeffries in action,” Lumen said. He’d also like to visit El Salvador — not for the beer but for the waves of La Libertad and the Wild East.“I would really enjoy the great waves and ‘small crowds,” he said.
Green Room’s long range plans are to have slow controlled growth. Currently they are installing three new 20 barrel tanks to help with increased demand and they are not even thinking about what, or when, the next expansion might be. They are considering a canning line once production is at a point where they actually have a surplus.
Short range plans are to continue to develop their core line of beers which include Head High IPA; an aggressive American style IPA brewed with copious amounts of Amarillo and Cascade hops for a massive citrus aroma; Beach, Pablo an very tasty American style pale ale; Diamond, A Belgian style wit; Shaka, an oatmeal stout; and Double Overhead, a double IPA. Green Room also has seasonal beers that will appear according to the season or Eric’s desire to brew something special.
All Green Room beers are available draft only with a few specialty bottle releases and while distribution is limited, their beers have been showing up in areas like Gainesville, Ocala and beyond.. They tap a pilot batch (1/2 barrel) each week and also tap a new seasonal 1-2 times a month and always have 6-8 guest taps on hand; usually from fellow Florida breweries.
“Every Tuesday we tap a pilot batch that we brew on a small system we have.These tend to be pretty fun. We have done a few Berliner Weiss beers, a couple of all Brett beers and a lot of spiced saisons. We have been using Bob’s St. Somewhere yeast to do pilot saisons. And single malt, single hop IPA's; some very high alcohol stuff.”
Green Room Brewing,
228 3rd Street North, Jacksonville Beach.
Read the full article at http://sbnonline.brewingnews.com/article/Green+Room+Grewing/1270340/140075/article.html.