Southern Brew News October/November 2010 : Page 1
I illustration: hans granheim t seems clear that the cur-rent surge in craft beer in the United States is a creative, artisanal phenomenon of colossal magnitude, and the Southeast stands as one of the most promising craft beer fron-tiers. SBN asked several south-eastern pro brewers to describe how they fell in love with great beer and why craft beer is so amazing. Their responses form a varied, heartfelt and fascinat-ing look into the backgrounds and mindsets that motivate these innovators. See Love p.3 Tasting Notes ................... 6 Style Section .....................7 Homebrew News .............. 8 Beer Wench's Kitchen .... 10 Dr. Brewski ..................... 11 State by State News Tennessee ........16 Alabama/Mississippi ....17 Georgia ..........18 The Carolinas .......20 Florida ...........22 Louisiana ............23 “i look at it as an investment in the company,” says Collier who still lives and maintains a full-time job in the atlanta area. of course it helps that during the week he can leave work and make it home in 20 minutes. he says the new weekend commute is really just his catching up to the average commute times in the metro area. it also probably helps that Collier doesn’t have to make the trip alone. his wife Cristina has been his co-brewer since their very first homebrew batch in 1995, and now that Chris has upgraded from his homebrewing equipment to a 10 bbl brewhouse and brewing licenses, Cristina remains a partner at the mash tun. she is there in Bryson City with Chris every weekend. “love beer, love the cooking aspect of brewing,” Cristina says. For her it’s “creating something deli-cious, experimenting with ingredi-ents and processes,” that keeps her interested in the beer. Plus, the scenery on this com-mute isn’t too shabby, either. Great Smoky Beauty Bryson City is situated just south of the great smoky mountains national Park and is a major hub for outdoor activities in western north Carolina. in fact, it was Bryson City’s natural beauty that ultimately led to the Colliers’ weekly commute. Chris and Cristina, who also are both national BJCP beer judges, were judges at the national homebrew Conference in Cincinnati during the summer of 2008 when they decided to make a two-day trip See Nantahala p.5
For The Love Of Craft Beer
IT seems clear that the current surge in craft beer in the United States is a creative, artisanal phenomenon of colossal magnitude, and the Southeast stands as one of the most promising craft beer frontiers.
SBN asked several southeastern Pro brewers to describe how they fell in love with great beer and why craft beer is so amazing. Their responses form a varied, heartfelt and fascinating look into the backgrounds and mindsets that motivate these innovators.
<b>Chuck Skypeck of Boscos and Ghost River Brewing</b>
In Memphis, considered one of the Southeast’s “founding fathers” of brewing, decided back in the 1980s, when new breweries were beginning to open on both coasts, that he would brew craft beer in Tennessee. Skypeck recalls, “This was completely self serving — can you imagine how poor the selection of beer was in the South back then? In the almost 20 years since I started Boscos, interest and sales continue to grow and build year after year, and there seems to be no end in sight!”
Sipping his dad’s beer as a kid roused his Irish heritage and created an early love for the beverage in Crawford Moran, brewer and co-owner of 5 Seasons in Atlanta and Alpharetta. Moran recalls, “The first time I homebrewed was a life changing event. I’d never even thought it possible that an everyday person could make beer, but combining grain, water, yeast and hops was a mystical and spiritual experience for me.” Tom Davis, brewer at Thomas Creek in Greenville, South Carolina, enjoys meeting people who swear they don’t like beer.
“I can’t count how many times I have seen someone with an upturned nose slowly going for that first sip, afraid that our beers will be like a boring American lager,” relates Davis. But then something pretty cool happens — they leave with a smile and a renewed interest in beer. This really makes it easy and worthwhile to be at our brewery for those 14-18 hour days.”
<b>The Homebrew Connection</b>
John Roberts of Atlanta’s Max Lager’s brewpub notes that the aroma emanating from the brewpot of his first homebrew hooked him on brewing and appreciating flavorful beers.
He also recalls enjoying a variety of excellent beer styles while in college in Boston.
“Sitting at the Commonwealth Brewing Company’s beautiful, copper-clad bar sipping my first hand-drawn cask beer since my trip to England years before made me fall in love with the romance of craft brewed beer in brewpubs.” He knew then that a brewpub must be in his future.
While at Virginia Tech, SweetWater’s Mark Medlin became interested in tasty beers from Sierra Nevada, Rogue, Fuller’s and the like. Being a mechanical engineering student, he decided to learn all he could about the brewing process and started homebrewing with a group of friends.
“Before we knew it, we were brewing 15 Gallon all-grain batches a couple of times a week and supplying our grateful friends at weekly parties,” adds Medlin. After college, this experience inspired him to head back to school for the U.C. Davis Master Brewer’s program in 2004.
Moccasin Bend Brewing’s Chris Hunt believes that his ultimate beer awaking came with homebrewing in the early ‘90s. Hunt remarks, “I learned to brew very palatable ales along the way, although an early imperial stout with wintergreen was quickly termed ‘Black Death’ by my friends.” Regarding life as a pro brewer, he states, “99% of brewing is cleaning and sanitation, but the 1% that’s devoted to creating unique and creative beer is the part of running our Chattanooga microbrewery that I truly enjoy.”
“Back in the early ‘90s, I thought I would save money on expensive beer by homebrewing,” explains Gary Essex of McGuire’s Irish Pub in Destin, Florida. “I didn’t save a penny, and spent even more buying expensive equipment and flying off to beer festivals and judging homebrew competitions as a BJCP judge. I feel very proud and lucky to be an early part of the renaissance of beer in America.”
<b>Beer is Food</b>
Abita’s David Blossman states, “In the ‘80s, the watered-down, mass-produced beers just didn’t stand up to our kind of cooking in Louisiana. I got a homebrewing kit and decided I’d make my own Louisiana beer. Some of my early creations were a little scary, but eventually I discovered I had a knack for creating full-flavored ales and lagers. I entered an American Homebrewers Association competition, actually won and had an epiphany — I could make a living doing something I really loved — making beer!”
Prior to his love affair with gourmet beer, Wayne Wambles of Tampa’s popular Cigar City Brewing began with a passion for food. “I feel that elements of food and beer can create a perfect double helix of cuisine and zymurgy — evolving into a harmonious marriage of unique and challenging drinks,” claims Wambles. Beer lovers have embraced Wambles’ talent at integrating fascinating, local food flavors in his eclectic range of brews.
Paul Philippon of North Carolina’s Duck-Rabbit Craft Brewery shares, “All of my adult life, I’ve been enthusiastic about delicious food. In college, it occurred to me That there were delicious, great beers as well.
I love great beer as a category of great food.
Flavorful beer is made with integrity and passion, and the craft brewers I know are making recipes and decisions based on their desire to brew as delicious a beer as they can.
That gets my attention and respect.”
<b>Thinking Outside the Sixpack</b>
Craft beer seems on the brink of finally hitting the big time in Alabama, due to The success of the Free the Hops campaign and a crop of beer-inspired entrepreneurs and brewers. Jamie Ray of Alabama’s new Back Forty Beer Company shares, “I love the interactions of beer and food, culture and friends — I’ve traveled for craft beer all over the country, and there’s always something new to taste.” Good People Brewing’s Jason Malone adds,
“I love that craft beer is not about commercials with girls in bikinis, talking dogs, vortex bottles, blue mountains, etcetera... it’s about the beer.” Hank Standridge of the Cannon Brewpub in Columbus, Georgia remembers brewing with his dad back in the early ‘90s. Even though he didn’t fully understand the process, he knew he was “dabbling in magic.” As Standridge puts it, “Brewing creates life on all levels — from the microscopic to the macroeconomic.
Quality beer awakens creativity, independence and culture and is a unique expression of a brewer’s love of life and the dedication to the preservation and progress of his social community.”
Jailhouse Brewing, the new kid on Georgia’s microbrewery block, is owned and operated by Glenn Golden who shares, “Craft beer evokes the senses and inspires one to search for new flavors and interpretations of styles. I think that falling in love With great beer tends to be a gradual process — the more you explore, the more the love grows. Brewing is amazing to me because it embodies so many facets — history, heritage, passion, fun and camaraderie.” Spike Buckowski of Terrapin Beer Company in Athens, Georgia adds, “I love the sense of camaraderie and community that surrounds craft brewing. What other industry allows for so much sharing of recipes, processes and ideas?” Bill Drew fell in love with craft beer while studying in Europe in the mid-’90s.
When he returned home, he could no longer drink college swill. “The packaging on a sixer of Dixie’s Blackened Voodoo Lager got me to try the beer, but the flavor helped me fall in love with the craft beer industry,” notes Drew. “I started out as a manual bottle labeler, and now I’m the owner and brewer of Craggie Brewing Company in Asheville. How cool is that?” Jordan Fleetwood of Twain’s in Decatur, Georgia says, “I discovered that craft beer offers a clean canvas for the brewer’s creativity. I like seeing what envelopes can be pushed — it’s fun but also pretty serious.” Zohn Tennyson from Lazy Magnolia in Mississippi understands that personable craft beer calls for friends and fellowship.
“Here in the Southeast, we love a good gathering — be it a football game, a party by the river or dinner with friends, and splitting a bottle of something new always makes these events better,” he says. “Great craft beer was born for want of something better, and we in the southern brewers’ community continue to seek new and better ways to improve. Here’s to all of us!”
Read the full article at http://sbnonline.brewingnews.com/article/For+The+Love+Of+Craft+Beer/518919/48543/article.html.
For most of the people living in the metro Atlanta area, the idea of commuting to job 160 miles from home would be a mightmare. Of course, considering the city's notorious traffic, even relatively short commutes can seen nightmarish. For Chris Collier, co-founder of Nantahala Brewing Company in Bryson City, NC, it's more like a dream come true.
“I look at it as an investment in the company,” says Collier who still lives and maintains a full-time job in the Atlanta area.
Of course it helps that during the week he can leave work and make it home in 20 minutes. He says the new weekend commute is really just his catching up to the average commute times in the metro area.
It also probably helps that Collier doesn’t have to make the trip alone. His wife Cristina has been his co-brewer since their very first homebrew batch in 1995, and now that Chris has upgraded from his homebrewing equipment to a 10 bbl brewhouse and brewing licenses, Cristina remains a partner at the mash tun. She is there in Bryson City with Chris every weekend.
“Love beer, love the cooking Aspect of brewing,” Cristina says.
For her it’s “creating something delicious, experimenting with ingredients and processes,” that keeps her interested in the beer.
Plus, the scenery on this commute isn’t too shabby, either.
<b>Great Smoky Beauty</b>
Bryson City is situated just south of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and is a major hub for outdoor activities in western North Carolina. In fact, it was Bryson City’s natural beauty that ultimately led to the Colliers’ weekly commute.
Chris and Cristina, who also are both national BJCP beer judges, were judges at the National Homebrew Conference in Cincinnati during the summer of 2008 when they decided to make a two-day trip Of the ride home and ended up staying the night in Bryson City. While eating dinner that evening, they just happened to meet Mike Marsden, owner of Across the Trax, a local bar. By the end of the night, a business plan had been sketched out on a napkin and from there it was just a matter of details.
Of course some of those details are pretty important. There’s a reason that the beer wouldn’t flow from the taps until early 2010 when the napkin already had the plan all in one place. First, they had to convert the space, which shares a building with Marsden’s bar, into a brewery.
“We did basically everything,” Chris says. “We didn’t hire anybody. That’s what took us so long because none of us were doing this full time.” Only after all of the physical labor was done (at one point they were even digging trenches behind the building to get the new electrical system in), could they finally even apply for their state and federal brewing licenses.
“When you’re opening a brewery, you can’t apply for your license until your brewery is complete,” Chris explains.
Nantahala Brewing had its federal license in December 2009, which allowed them to begin brewing beer. But it wasn’t until the middle of May this year that the state of North Carolina finished processing the paperwork. By that time, NBC already had beer in the tanks waiting for permission to start selling to their accounts.
That’s right, not selling to their distributor, but to their accounts. NBC sells directly to the bars and stores.
Another partner, Joe Rowland, who also owns the Paddle Fish outfitter in town, handles the marketing. NBC also sell growlers directly from the brewery.
The ability to control their own sales is one of the main reasons that Chris and Cristina weren’t already brewing somewhere closer to home. In the Colliers’ home state of Georgia, a brewery is required to sell all of its beer through a distributor, and putting that much control over such an important aspect of the business just wasn’t something the Colliers wanted to do.
“I crunched the numbers and could never make it make sense in Georgia,” Chris says. “The only thing that ever made sense financially was to open a brewpub, but that involves running a restaurant, which I have no experience with.” Of course, since Across the Trax is literally right next door and serves food and NBC beer on tap, it’s almost like Chris has a brewpub anyway— except that you can also buy growlers at the Nantahala Outdoor Center when you get through with your rafting trip, or in the grocery store while resupplying for your hike on the Appalachian Trail, or at a beer bar in Asheville.
Unfortunately, a state border and less encouraging laws prevent a fourth business partner, Ken Smith, from selling NBC’s beer in his own bar in South Carolina.
<b>See Bryson City</b>
I visited Bryson City earlier this year on my way to a weeklong stint working on a trail maintenance crew for the Appalachian Trail Conservancy. I didn’t realize that the brewery was next door to the bar at the time.
I pulled up a seat at Across the Trax and had a few samples. I knew that this was NBC’s first ever account and I was impressed with the bar’s dedication to their fellow local business.
Every tap handle had a Nantahala Brewing logo. There was even a jockey box for the then brand new Bryson City Brown, because they didn’t have enough taps installed at the time. It turns out that Marsden installed the taps just for the brewery.
After the samples, I struggled over whether to get the Noon Day IPA or the richer Eddy Out Stout to go with my ridiculously large hotdog.
Chris says that the Bryson City Brown is actually tied with the IPA as his best seller.
“The brown is actually an English mild at 3.8%,” he says. “It’s been a good beer for us because it’s lighter.” The beer has also worked well in garnering NBC tap space at local bars where every other craft brewery sells an IPA and a stout.
Not a lot of people are making browns.
It’s a great summer beer. A great session beer.”
Read the full article at http://sbnonline.brewingnews.com/article/Nantahala+Brewing/518926/48543/article.html.