Southern Brew News December 2014/January 2015 : Page 1

Even Skjervold adding hops to Thomas Creek Honeysuckle Saison P HOTO BY : D AVID T HORNTON T By Steve Deason By Don Beistle 2014 was a great year for craft beer in Georgia, and by all indications things should only get better in 2015. As I write, Georgia is home to over three dozen craft breweries, and that number is poised to surpass 40 in short order. Fully one-third are brewpubs, but the rest are packaging breweries. At one end of the spectrum are nanobrewers like Grumpy Old Men and Reformation who brew on supersized homebrew systems and ship 1/6-or 1/4-barrel kegs only to neighborhood accounts. At the other are regional players Sweetwater and Terrapin, who together will ship some 200,000 barrels of beer all across the South and Mid-Atlantic in 2014. The real excitement has been at the lower end, with a rising wave of not-so-big breweries embracing a determinedly small-and-local ethos. Their guiding light is not growth-for-growth’s sake so much as a good fit. That means brewing to local tastes, incorporating local ingredients (hops, honey, fruit, wild yeast, etc.), and embrac-ing the local vibe, whether that be college-town mellow (Eagle Creek Brewing, Statesboro) or edgy and hyper-literate (Orpheus Brewing, near Piedmont Park in Atlanta). Craft beer continues to expand beyond Georgia’s urban centers, with notable growth in the om Davis, Owner and Brewmaster at Thomas Creek Brewery tried making a honeysuckle beer using honeysuckle flowers but had not gotten the flavor he wanted. Knowing this, David Thornton and Even Skjervold provided the brewer two yeast strains they sourced from honeysuckle down the road from Thornton’s house. After some home brew and pilot batches using the yeasts, Davis picked his favorite and Thomas Creek launched Honeysuckle Saison. The chosen yeast strain, named HS1 and currently exclusive to Thomas Creek, was the first of Thornton and Skjervold’s “bio-prospecting efforts” to be used in a com-mercial beer. Thornton is coordinator of the sustain-able biofuels program at Clemson University. He also teaches at Clemson in a project based learning program called Creative Inquiry and expects to complete his Masters in Biosystems Engineering in 2015. Skjervold is a native of Norway who just completed a Masters of Business Administration and a Master of Science in Bioengineering at Clemson. The two met after student Skjervold wrote an essay convincing teacher Thornton to allow him to join a spring of 2012 course that was already full called “The Science of Beer, an introduction to Zymology.” For a class project Skjervold harvested yeast from the beer La Fin de Monde. This spurred Thornton and Skjervold to wonder if they could “find yeast somewhere else that nobody has used for brewing before.” Along with the class, they Se e State p.13 See Flavor p.3 Tennessee ..................4 Florida ......................5 Alabama/Mississippi ...6 Louisiana ...................7 Georgia ................... 12 The Carolinas .......... 14

South Yeast Labs:Prospecting For Flavor

Steve Deason

Tom Davis, Owner and Brewmaster at Thomas Creek Brewery tried making a honeysuckle beer using honeysuckle flowers but had not gotten the flavor he wanted. Knowing this, David Thornton and Even Skjervold provided the brewer two yeast strains they sourced from honeysuckle down the road from Thornton’s house. After some home brew and pilot batches using the yeasts, Davis picked his favorite and Thomas Creek launched Honeysuckle Saison. The chosen yeast strain, named HS1 and currently exclusive to Thomas Creek, was the first of Thornton and Skjervold’s “bio-prospecting efforts” to be used in a commercial beer.

Thornton is coordinator of the sustainable biofuels program at Clemson University. He also teaches at Clemson in a project based learning program called Creative Inquiry and expects to complete his Masters in Biosystems Engineering in 2015. Skjervold is a native of Norway who just completed a Masters of Business Administration and a Master of Science in Bioengineering at Clemson. The two met after student Skjervold wrote an essay convincing teacher Thornton to allow him to join a spring of 2012 course that was already full called “The Science of Beer, an introduction to Zymology.”

For a class project Skjervold harvested yeast from the beer La Fin de Monde. This spurred Thornton and Skjervold to wonder if they could “find yeast somewhere else that nobody has used for brewing before.” Along with the class, they did their first bio-prospecting at Clemson’s Musser Fruit Research Farm. One of their first successes was collected from a Dwarf Peach in conjunction with Will McCameron President and Co-Founder of Brewery 85 in Greenville, SC. Thornton describes this yeast, named P1 (Musserweizen) as “similar to what is (traditionally) used to brew Hefeweizen, has banana notes … nice citrusy almost peachy flavor.” Brewery 85 uses the P1 yeast for 864 Weizen made from ingredients sourced in the 864 area code.

In May 2013 Yancey Appling, one of Thornton’s students, made a presentation about the class’s yeast efforts at the American Society of Brewing Chemists annual meeting. Thornton had brought along samples of a Saison brewed with the P1 strain which he shared with folks from Allagash and Deschutes breweries as well as John Palmer author of “How to Brew.” Encouragements from these industry stalwarts and from local brewers elevated discussions about turning the activities into a business. Skjervold enrolled in the Clemson MBA entrepreneurship program using their “yeast harvesting activities” as the basis of a required business idea also in May of 2013. After much work they incorporated SouthYeast Labs in December of 2013 with Thornton as Chief Technical Officer and Skjervold as CEO focused on business administration.

Brewers have a saying that “brewers make the wort, yeast makes the beer.” This is because yeast produces ethanol; the part of beer Thornton says gives you that “funny feeling.” Yeast also has a major role in the flavor of a beer. Thornton says while many are focused solely on dominant hop flavors, “… that’s limited to a small group of styles of beers.” At festivals Thornton uses beer samples to show how the often fruity esters and other flavors produced by yeast provide complexity and variety. Beer styles that are yeast driven like Belgian, Saison, and Hefeweizen benefit from this diversity. Thornton explains that “essentially when we’re smelling a flower, we are smelling (these) esters.” Therefore “yeast from a peach smells and tastes a little like a peach, from a honeysuckle it smells floral if not quite honeysuckle.” Thornton cautions this is not true for all wild yeast and cites yeast they collected from blueberries as an example. He says it doesn’t taste or smell anything like the berry.

SouthYeast Lab’s catalog includes six single strain yeasts collected from peaches, nectarines, blueberries, muscadines, and honeysuckle. The honeysuckle strain, HS2, was collected in Tennessee. The rest were collected in South Carolina. They also offer three yeast blends and two Lactobacillus bacteria choices. SouthYeast provides bacteria, blends, and advice on brewing sour beers under controlled conditions. Thornton says they have dozens more strains including twelve he collected in Hawaii they want to work with but space is an issue. In addition, they offer bio-prospecting by request. An example shared by Service Brewing Company CEO Kevin Ryan; “We had (Thornton and Skjervold) down to Savannah and gave them about a dozen sites to prospect for yeast.” They “collected samples from all over Savannah, even a one hundred year old rum barrel.” The surprise “winner” was collected from honeycomb in a beehive at the brewery. “We have used the yeast strain from our brewery bees to ferment a Biere de Garde … conditioned with our honey …. It turned out to be a phenomenal beer and will most likely end up being our spring seasonal.” Following through on their early encouragement, Deschutes Brewery hired SouthYeast Labs in October to bio-prospect for them in Oregon.

Thornton and Skjervold are passionate about the role they want SouthYeast Labs to play in the craft brew world. Thornton explains “What I am really looking forward to is expanding people’s horizons, not necessarily bringing more science but bringing more art into beer, give an artist a bigger pallet to work with. Then they’ll have more diversity in the art they create. We’re looking forward to creating a style for the southeast, Southeast Saison… something that identifies the south, that distinguishes us like the west coast is known for IPAs or Flanders is known for sours.” Skjervold says “I would like SouthYeast to branch out and not only sell native yeasts but I don’t want to gather yeasts from other yeast banks in the U.S.” Doug Reiser co-owner of Burial Brewing Company in Asheville echoes these goals when asked about his relationship with Thornton and Skjervold, “Burial prides itself on originality and local terroir. These guys care about the same principles. Most upstart yeast labs are just growing yeast from other products.” Thornton believes just as the “craft beer pie” has gotten bigger when brewers collaborate, the “yeast pie” will benefit from collaboration too. SouthYeast Labs recently reached out to equally new RVA Yeast Lab in Richmond, Virginia and the two will be working together to find the perfect wild strain for a Virgin Belgique for Stone Brewery’s planned east coast facility.

SouthYeast is already making quite an impact in the region. The list of collaborators and customers includes Triple C, Sub Noir, Fullsteam, Broomtail, Freehouse, Steel String, Raleigh, Natty Green’s, Trophy, Wicked Weed, Wild Heaven, Gibbs Hundred, and Three Notch’d breweries. Oskar Blues used five of SouthYeast’s products to brew five versions of their Mama’s Little Yella Pils in a taproom event called “Mama’s Gone Wild”. Planned beers in December include SouthYeast’s HS-2 (honeysuckle) in a Belgian Brown at Hi-Wire, N-1(nectarines) in Saluda Wet Hop IPA at Quest, and RJ

Rockers is brewing with some bugs propagated from wild Paw Paw fruit. Expect SouthYeast’s impact on the regional craft beer renaissance to surge soon. They plan to move operations and build a commercial lab at Rocky Mount Brew Mill in Rocky Mount, NC in the summer of 2015.

Read the full article at http://sbnonline.brewingnews.com/article/South+Yeast+Labs%3AProspecting+For+Flavor/1885347/238797/article.html.

The State Of Georgia Beer

Don Beistle

2014 was a great year for craft beer in Georgia, and by all indications things should only get better in 2015.

As I write, Georgia is home to over three dozen craft breweries, and that number is poised to surpass 40 in short order. Fully one-third are brewpubs, but the rest are packaging breweries. At one end of the spectrum are nanobrewers like Grumpy Old Men and Reformation who brew on supersized homebrew systems and ship 1/6- or 1/4-barrel kegs only to neighborhood accounts. At the other are regional players Sweetwater and Terrapin, who together will ship some 200,000 barrels of beer all across the South and Mid- Atlantic in 2014.

The real excitement has been at the lower end, with a rising wave of not-so-big breweries embracing a determinedly small-and-local ethos. Their guiding light is not growth-for-growth’s sake so much as a good fit. That means brewing to local tastes, incorporating local ingredients (hops, honey, fruit, wild yeast, etc.), and embracing the local vibe, whether that be college-town mellow (Eagle Creek Brewing, Statesboro) or edgy and hyper-literate (Orpheus Brewing, near Piedmont Park in Atlanta).

Craft beer continues to expand beyond Georgia’s urban centers, with notable growth in the north Georgia mountains. Tiny, touristy Blue Ridge (pop. 1300) now is home to a brewpub, a nano, a micro and some serious beer bars and stores. It’s not Asheville, but Blue Ridge is definitely on the right track.

Maybe the time has come at last for a German-themed brewpub or nano in “alpine” Helen, home to an Oktoberfest celebration that runs from Labor Day to Halloween. Nothing is known to be in the works, but such a development has seemed tantalizingly inevitable for the past two decades.

Even stodgy Gwinnett, metro Atlanta’s second most populous county and the only major metro county without a brewery, may finally be getting into the craft brewing game. Startup aspirant Monkey Wrench Brewing of Snellville was looking at locations in Sugar Hill earlier this year. And Tannery Row Ale House opened this summer in a massive former leather manufacturing complex in neighboring Buford.

Tannery Row co-owner Shane Maxwell says a brewhouse is the next item on the development agenda, with a high-end seafood restaurant to follow. In the meantime, visitors are limited to tasty pub fare and an impressive, almost all-Georgia draft selection. 14 of Tannery Row’s 16 taps are reserved for a well curated collection of Georgia brews, another is permanently dedicated to Stone Arrogant Bastard, and one is open to out-of-state guests.

Georgia craft brewers kept pace at the Great American Beer Festival again this year, bringing home another 3 medals. Outside of a run of skunks in the early-1990s, Georgia brewers have been capturing two or three medals most years since 1989, when a pair of contract brews, Friends Helenbock and Wild Boar Special Amber won silver and bronze.

This year’s winners did not include perennial medal-winner Sweetwater, whose dozen GABF medals account for nearly half of Georgia’s haul since 1996, nor usual suspects Moon River, Red Brick or Terrapin. Instead, this year’s medalists all were fresh faces.

Creature Comforts Brewing of Athens, which became the Classic City’s second production brewery in April, won bronze in the American-style Brett Beer category for Curiosity No. 2, a one-off sour ale.

Creature Comforts exemplifies the adventurous spirit of the current craft beer scene in Georgia, launching with a Berliner-style weiss, a “tropical-fruit” IPA, and an oak-aged rye in its year-round portfolio.

Atlanta’s Monday Night Brewing, which opened in 2013, took gold in the Wood- and Barrel- Aged category for Bourbon Barrel Drafty Kilt, a limited- release version of its year-round strong Scottish ale. Monday Night’s spacious brewery includes a dedicated barrel-aging cellar, a rarity that indicates the seriousness of their commitment to wood.

Relative old-timer Coastal Empire Beer Company from Savannah won bronze in the Herb and Spice Beer category for their coffee-infused Dawn Patrol Breakfast Stout. Coastal Empire began selling contract-brewed Savannah Brown Ale in August 2011 and celebrated their third anniversary by breaking in a new 20-barrel brewhouse and canning line in a plant acquired in 2013.

As good as things were in 2014, challenges remain.

Georgia has the most restrictive legislative environment this side of Mississippi. All five states bordering Georgia allow breweries to sell beer by the glass, and only Alabama does not allow the sale of packaged beer for off-premise consumption.

Bizarrely, it is not legal to purchase a growler of fresh-from-the-tap beer at a Georgia brewpub. But you could buy a growler of that same beer at the gas station or pizza joint next door so long as a state-licensed beer distributor had physical possession of the keg during its yards-long journey from the brewery to the neighboring business.

In October, the Georgia Craft Brewers Guild launched the Create Georgia Beer Jobs website (GABeerJobs.com) to enlist public support for a bill to “allow consumers to purchase a pint at a brewery and take beer home from breweries and brewpubs.” This reform would harmonize Georgia’s laws with those of surrounding states, foster small brewers who depend on revenue from tours and tastings, and help make Georgia more appealing to expanding western brewers now crowding the Carolinas with new breweries.

Read the full article at http://sbnonline.brewingnews.com/article/The+State+Of+Georgia+Beer/1885349/238797/article.html.

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