The Heart of Brewing Beer at Home

The heart of brewing beer at home is the exhilaration, the satisfaction and the fun developing your personal batch of tasty beer could bring. What changes home brewing enthusiasts to life long makers of craft beer is the obstacle of always discovering new blends, new approaches and brand-new ways to make their craft beer even more delicious than the last set.

For others, that moment of awareness that home brewing might be an entirely new world could have taken place when you initially were exposed to “genuine” craft beer, as the home brewing fanatics call it. That is when you tested a mixture that was not made by the huge retail microbrew makers like Budweiser, Coors or Miller and you found just what beer tasted like when it came directly from the brewing process to your glass. That might likewise be the day you found out just what a fantastic diversity of draft beer kinds, tastes and also structures there were. And also for many when you understand that you can discover a variety of beers that is nearly as extensive as in the wine globe that it is typically extremely challenging to go back to dull old pasteurized beer once again.

If you are about to “make the jump” to come to be a homebrewer yourself, you are about to step into a full and rich world that is complete with culture, practice, as well as new friends and affiliates. You will not just take up the leisure activity of brewing craft beer, you will certainly “come to be” a house brewer which is an one-of-a-kind individual.

Can you bear in mind the minute you initially understood in your head to take up developing your very own craft beer in your home? When excellent craft beer is made, for many people it is a tour of a brewery or some various other behind the scenes exposure to all that takes place. Before that turning point, you might have never also thought of craft beer being made at all. Yet when you understood that not only does beer undergo an interesting transformation from grains and malts to this delicious brew you enjoy but that you can make your personal craft beer if you intend to, that is when the idea of becoming a homebrewer started to come true in your mind.

It’s a fantastic craft that you will certainly never ever be sorry for capturing due to the fact that brewing beer at home could provide decades of enjoyment and satisfaction. It also provides something else as great: excellent tasting beer.

It isn’t really tough to “define” home brewing due to the fact that the term is self informative except to go on to say that it is totally possible for you to make high quality craft beer right in your own house with a small financial investment in tools, the base active ingredients that are readily available as well and also the love and patience it will take to discover the craft. You might be shocked as you come to recognize that you actually really enjoy the process brewing beer at home.

The Health Benefits of Drinking Craft Beer

Craft Beer and HealthBelieve it or not, when done in moderation, drinking beer can have similar health benefits as drinking wine. It is also important to note that craft beer can be much more healthier than it’s corporate beer counterpart. Craft beer is done on a much smaller scale and more often than not is brewed using premium ingredients. So, sit back and crack open that which is good for what ales you!

Beer contains vitamin B6 which is considered essential for healthy brain function, increased energy and immune system health. Studies have shown that beer drinkers have more vitamin B6 in their blood than non beer drinkers and double the amount of those who drink wine. You will also find that beer contains a healthy dose of silicon which is great for bone health and leaves the beer drinker with stronger, denser bones.

Craft beer, in general, can be much more healthier for you than it’s corporate beer counterpart. Being done on a much smaller scale craft beer contains ingredients of a much higher quality. Surrounding the craft beer movement is a mindset of using all natural, quality ingredients. Some of the bigger name brands of beer can contain artificial coloring agents, processed sugar, or even GMO grains so it is important to know what you are putting into your body.

So, let us know discuss the health benefits of my favorite ingredient found in beer….. HOPS! Hops (Humulus lupulus) contain xanthohumol which is a flavonoid compound that has anti-viral, anti-inflammatory and anti-clotting properties. Hops are also a cousin of the cannabis plant and share’s some of it’s anti-cancer properties. Feeling anxious and having trouble sleeping? Well, drink a hoppy IPA and put your worries to bed! Hops have a relaxing quality and have been known to ease anxiety.

And so there you have it…. beer is healthy for you. But do not let this information go straight to your head and start pounding beers on a daily. One thing I love about the craft beer movement is that it reinforces appreciation over abuse. Everything in moderation… even moderation. Too much of anything can be a bad thing.




Ales vs. Lagers (And Why I’m an Ale Guy)

Ale vs LagerDespite the very many varieties of beer out there now a days when it comes down to it there are only two types, lagers and ales. The component that divides beer into these two categories is the yeast that is used to make the beer. Lager yeast is top fermenting and ferments at cooler temperature where as ale yeast is bottom fermenting and ferments at warmer temperatures. For the longest time lagers ran supreme is America with the market being controlled by large corporations spitting out copious amounts of yellow, fizzy beers. Then, the craft beer revolution happened.

The dawn of the craft beer movement brought diverse ales to the forefront of the industry. The environment was primed with creative collaboration and sparked a wave of imaginative ales bringing us flavors in beer we did not know was possible. It would seem the old world run by monotonous, corporate lager beers is dead and gone. We have come to the new age of ales… a brew world order.

The lack of diversity in lagers draws me to favor the rich, wide varieties of ales. Now, I have tried some craft lagers that I have enjoyed and sometimes certain situations, like mowing the lawn in 90 degree weather, calls for a nice crisp and refreshing lager. For me personally those occasions are extremely rare and you are more likely to find me with an ale in my hand.

For me, lagers carry with them the stigma of being crappy corporate beer. To me they represent the thought process on wanted to slam as many beers as fast as possible to get hammered drunk. Sure, in my teenage years I once held this mentality but I am older and wiser now, I think. I have come to appreciate beer and I enjoy it’s flavor. That reminds me of the saying, “People who drink light beer don’t like the taste of beer they just like to pee a lot.” When you boil it down I guess for me it comes to appreciation over abuse, leaving the old world behind and growing wiser with the passing years.


Beer & Food Pairings

beer and foodWhen it comes to pairing beer with food it is important to remember that there are no rules to follow and to experiment and have fun. That being said there are some recommendations to help you explore the endless pairings and possibilities to be had. When exploring what beers to pair with different food no one knows what you like better than you so stick with what you enjoy but at the same time don’t be afraid to try something new… you may just stumble upon a new favorite!

It is my personal preference to go with contrasting flavors more often rather than picking out commonalities when pairing. For instance bitter with sweet or sweet with sour. Sometimes it can be fine to pair similar flavors with each other but you have to be careful as too much of something can diminish you flavor pairing experience. For instance, if I was going to eat a spicy dish I may want to stay away from pairing it with a jalapeno beer and instead go with a more crisp, refreshing beer to offset the spiciness. Choosing to go with contrasting flavors when pairing beer with food can bring out different flavors in your beer or food that wouldn’t have tasted otherwise. However, the occasion often arises where I completely ignore this suggestion.

Choosing which beer to enjoy with your food can also be decided by matching similar flavors together. If you go this route you may find yourself having a Framboise Lambic with desert, a pumpkin ale with pumpkin cheesecake, or a smoked amber with some backyard Bar-B-Q. Sometimes going with this method can result in to much of one particular flavor and diminish the range of flavors you can experience with a dish.

Though there are no rules to strictly follow, and I encourage playing around with flavors, there are some constants to keep in mind. Beer pairs very nicely with cheese, contrasting flavors brings out complexity, and only you know what works for you. So, pop open a bottle or can, try something new and have a little fun. CHEERS!


How I Got Into the Craft Beer Scene (and Why I’ll Never Look Back)

Craft Beer SceneIt would be easy to say the reason I got into the wonderful world of craft beer is because of the wide range of flavors, styles and because craft beer just down right tastes better. Sure, those things are definitely all reasons but I would be reducing and simplifying if I were to say those things are the only reasons. How I got into the craft beer scene seemed to be the path of least resistance and was something that was destined to be.

Confession… I started drinking at a pretty young age and of course being young and dumb (and knowing absolutely nothing about beer) I started out drinking watered down, domestic lagers. It was the only thing I knew of beer since my dad drank Bud Light or whatever else was on sale at the time. Throughout the years of my teenage angst I ran through all the big name brands staying loyal to each one for a short time as my palate would change and my liking for each one would fall away.

As my palate and wisdom developed and matured I stumbled across some craft beer from Rogue Ales at the ripe age of nineteen. The next couple of years I enjoyed craft beer here and there but the spark for the flame of my desire was not yet ignited as I was only interested in whatever would catch me a buzz with the money I had in my pocket at the time. But, in my early twenties something happened that amerced my everything into the consciously creative craft beer scene.

At the time I was working in the food and beverage industry and had just been fired from a fining dinning restaurant uptown. Luckily, I had a friend who was the general manager at this little hole in the wall restaurant that was just getting in on the ground floor of the craft beer revolution in the city. He was very knowledgeable on craft beer and was one of those hardcore craft beer supporters, you know, the type that will travel to wait hours in line for the specialty release beers.

Working in this restaurant and being apart of the beginning of the amazing craft beer revolution in this city was something special. My knowledge of beer grew and so did my appreciation for the craft. As my appreciation for craft beer grew my desire to abuse beer in the form of over consumption waned. No longer was I able to drink light, domestic lagers not only because my palate could no longer stomach them but also because of the attached mentality behind the yellow, fizzy beers. Corporate beer is all about quantity over quality, it sacrifices character for increased profit margins while pushing over consumption on the market. Corporate beer gives you more, crappier beer for less money… isn’t that sweet?

The craft beer scene became something more than a new, trendy hobby for me… it became a movement! As I started to become the person I was created to be the more my love for the craft beer scene engulfed me. It became my fight, craft brew Vs. corporate beer. For me, it is a battle in a much bigger war being played out on the world stage. The craft beer revolution is about freedom over enslavement, collaboration over competition, and creative diversity over monotony. The lines are drawn, the stage is set and I was hooked… amerced in the craft beer scene and I’m not looking back. It’s full steam a head.



Beer in Review: 5 Refreshing Microbrews For Summer

sea-sunny-beach-holidaySummer time… a time to sit back and unwind… but first you must decide on a beer to drink. Of course we all know of the criteria a summer beer must meet: not too heavy, refreshing and low on the ABV scale. Lagers are typically the go ahead play here but if you are like me and prefer ales that are light, refreshing and yet flavorful here are 5 ales that are the most invigorating on a hot summer day.

Westbrook GoseWestbrook Brewing Gose

Weighing in at 4% abv this German styled sour wheat beer hits every mark of a great summer beer. It is brewed using coriander and salt giving it an interestingly refreshing flavor. Coming out of Mt Pleasant, SC Westbrook Brewing has created the perfect beer to have in hand while your feet are buried in the sand!

FullSizeRenderoff color brewing APEX PREDATOR

This fruity, dry farmhouse ale weighs in at 6.8% abv and 35 IBU. It is light and refreshing with notes of citrus and mild pepper. The complexity of this wild animal of a beer will have your taste buds intrigued and lips questioning “what was that and can I have some more?” This beers ability to be light, refreshing and complex all at once makes it one of the best farmhouse ales in the U.S.

OB PinnerOskar Blues Pinner

Can I be blunt? I absolutely love IPA’s and I am a self proclaimed hophead. IPA’s are my go to style of beer and lucky enough there is one for every occasion. This throwback IPA is well balanced with hops and offers a fruity, citrus taste upfront and a pine and earthy finish on the back end. At 4.9% and 35 IBU this American IPA is perfect for any hophead to slam on a summers’ day.

summer solsticeAnderson Valley Summer Solstice

Things that make you go “hmmm….” This beer will leave you baffled as the taste profile is not what you would expect from the look of this brew. Known as a “cream soda for adults” this summer ale is exactly what the doctor ordered. It has a creamy mouth feel yet is surprisingly light and refreshing. Weighing in at 5% and only 6 IBU this beer offers sweet, caramel notes coupled with a bit of spice while maintaining drink-ability which makes this interesting ale a top choice for refreshment on a summer day.

Jam SessionNoDa Brewing Jam Session

This local summer favorite is well balanced with citrus hops and a strong malt flavor. It offers a hint of grapefruit with a slight bitterness that complements the malt backbone well. It is light and refreshing and mixes strong flavor with drink-ability quite well. Weighing in at 5.1% abv and 31 IBU this American Pale Ale is perfect for a summer lake day in Charlotte, NC.









Dear Charlotte, It’s Time To Cheat on Your Local Craft Beer… Sometimes!

I know… I know… #SupportLocal #DrinkLocal but first hear me out. Speaking as someone who would love to start up a brewpub in the Charlotte area I love the fact that Charlotteans are such large supporters of the local craft beer scene. That being said craft beer isolationism can have some negative effects on the local craft beer scene.

Since I got into the wonderful world of craft beer I have relished in the fact the craft beer drinkers would enjoy a variety of beer and would not limit themselves to drinking one kind and one brand of beer. The average craft beer warrior may start out with a nice sour beer to warm up the palate, follow that beer with a nice pale ale or an IPA and then finish off the night with a brown porter or a stout. And why not… after all, variety is the spice of life.

It is a wonderful thing to support your local small businesses and the way I do that the most is by purchasing local craft beer. Although, purchasing local craft beer helps the industry grow on an economic level, it can actually hinder the growth of your local craft beer scene artistically. When one drinks only craft beer from their city or state, they are holding themselves to a certain standard and are hindering their experience of what craft beer is and what craft beer can be.

So, Charlotte … keep supporting your local breweries and drinking your local craft beer but cheat on them … sometimes. Competition within industries is a good thing and occasionally drinking outside craft beer will cause quality and creativity within the craft beer scene to flourish and grow into something unexpected. Support variety and keep brewers on their toes and at the top of their game.

The Art of Craft Beer

Many people think beer is just a refreshing drink for a hot summer day. Or something to be enjoyed in excess during a tailgate or sporting event. That might be true if you’re drinking Budweiser or Miller, but craft beer is an entirely different story.

We’d like to make the argument that craft beer is an art form. Its recent resurgence is due to this fact. Large companies like Budweiser and Miller water down their product and push excessive consumption to sell more of it and increase their profit margins. Craft breweries do the opposite. They focus on improving the quality of their beer and promote appreciation over mass consumption. In doing so, they create customer loyalty, while cultivating the appreciation of a unique art form.

When you taste a watered-down, piss-colored Bud Light, your instinct is not to say “mmm… that’s good. I get notes of citrus on my palate, and the finish is highly refreshing. This would go perfectly with a light salmon dish on a warm spring day.” No, your instinct is to pound it back as quickly as possible so you can open another one, and another one, and then another one. Eventually you start to feel the cumulative effects of the 18-pack you just drank, but is it worth it? If you ask me, it’s definitely not. You end up with a gut and a hangover, and no happy memories of what happened the day before while you were pounding back cans of cheap beer.

Call us craft beer drinkers pretentious beverage snobs all you want. Good beer is an art form. There is a lot that goes into creating a high-quality, enjoyable microbrew that drinkers will truly appreciate. And when it’s appreciated, they’ll come back for more. Customer loyalty is an important ingredient in creating a thriving, successful business.

Let’s think about this in terms of music, which is also an art form. You’ve got mainstream popular artists like Katy Perry and Lady Gaga who have completely sold out to the industry in an effort to obtain massive amounts of money and fame. Yes, they’ve succeeded, but their music is forgettable. On the other hand, you’ve got bands that have been around for decades and are still going strong – Sting, Stevie Wonder, Nine Inch Nails, Red Hot Chili Peppers. Throughout the ebbs and flows of the constantly changing music industry, they’ve managed to stay true to themselves, refusing to sell out to money-hungry producers and studio execs, and guess what? They’ve been just as profitable (if not more), and achieved listener loyalty.

Which category would you rather be in?

As a craft brewer, our aim is not to maximize profit, especially when doing so often requires the sacrifice of artistic quality. Our goal is to always be true to who we are and what we believe to be true about what makes beer worth drinking and appreciating. These are principles we strive for with every new batch.

I know we haven’t written in a while, but it’s because we’ve been busy brewing up some new beers, experimenting with out-of-the-box techniques in order to distinguish ourselves among the competition in this city. We’re still just having fun doing it at home – getting the necessary funds to open a brewpub is pretty difficult to do if you don’t know the right people – but for now, that’s enough. Retaining hobby status allows us to take more risks and hone our craft – our art – until the opportunity to seize hold of our long-term dream really becomes a reality. Until then, look out for more posts like this to inspire you to stay true to who you are.

Building a Brewery: The Catch-22 Dilemma

One of the things we learned right away when looking into starting our brewpub was that there is a huge catch-22 dilemma for brewery start-ups. In order to obtain the required permits and licenses you need to get started on the brewing process, you must first have an approved location complete with the necessary brewing equipment installed. Only then can you apply for a “thumbs-up” from the TTB to start brewing.

The investment needed to even begin applying for permits and licenses is enormous and a stumbling block for most aspiring breweries. Unless you have hundreds of thousands of dollars sitting around (or an investor with that kind of money who believes in your dream), it’s pretty difficult to get up and running. Your options are to become a gypsy brewer like Evil Twin, or start small like Dogfish Head did in the basement of another establishment with a 10-gallon brew system, and hustle hard and fast to build your dream in a sustainable way.

It’s no easy feat… the difficulty is what causes a lot of brewers to quit before they’ve even really made a go at it.

Of course, you could start a crowdfunding campaign to fund your dream. But in order to get the large following you’ll need to acquire donors, you’ve got to make a ton of beer and give it away for free. Once you get your beer into the hands of thousands of people and get those people on your email list, you can start the crowdfunding and persuade them to donate. And if they’re craft beer lovers who like your recipes, they will. The craft beer community is supportive and loyal. At least that’s what we’ve garnered from our experience.

Once you have enough money in hand – whether from an investor or from crowdfunding – you can begin constructing your brewery. It’s important that every detail is accounted for in this process. Everything must be constructed according to the particular laws of the state you’re in, so you may want to do your research and hire a lawyer. It would be shame for you to build a structure to have it not be approved. Then you’ve lost money and have to spend even more to fix the mistakes, or worse, start all over again.

You may choose to rent an existing building instead of constructing your own. In that case, you’ll have to hire a good construction company to come in and inspect anything, conduct necessary repairs and bring the space up to spec. There are construction companies that specialize in both residential and commercial construction, and they’ll work with you to ensure all state and federal regulations are met. Most breweries will require high ceilings and a very sturdy, well-constructed roof, since you’re working with large brewing tanks that could spill or even explode. This roofer in Charlotte NC is one of our favorites. We know the owner of the company and they do all types of installations, renovations and repairs! We will probably call them when it’s time to begin construction on our brewpub.

The building has been the biggest hang-up for us so far, and the reason why we haven’t been able to see our dream become a reality. If I had to be honest, I’d say it all boils down to fear. It’s hard to take that leap of faith and invest hundreds of thousands of dollars into something when you’re not sure if it will result in profit. I guess this blog is partly a confession and partly a self-reminder to stop worrying and take massive action. I’ve been reading a lot of self-help books lately, and that’s the #1 recommendation given to people who aspire to be successful.

In short, the catch-22 dilemma makes it really hard to open a brewpub. You can’t sell your beer unless you have permits & licenses to do so – none of which may be acquired until you have an approved physical space to brew. And that costs hundreds of thousands of dollars… If anyone knows of a solution to this dilemma, we’d love to hear your thoughts. Feel free to leave any suggestions and/or positive remarks in the comments section below!

Setting Up Shop: Finding The Right Location For A BrewPub

Location, location, location…

It’s one of the most important factors to consider when building any brick-and-mortar business, and it’s also one of the biggest struggles we’ve had as aspiring entrepreneurs.

We live in Charlotte, which is a fairly new scene for the craft beer industry, but it’s establishing itself quite strongly, considering how close we are to Asheville (better known as Beer USA).

Even before we thought about opening up a brewery, our first idea was to go into business with our friends and start a brew-on-premise facility that would target wedding parties. Brides and grooms could come into the facility, learn how to brew their own beer, and even brew a batch for their bachelor/ette party(ies) and/or their big day.

It was a genius idea, but probably a bit too niche, and it wasn’t our ultimate dream. We wrestled with our friends over where this facility would be located. They lived in Huntersville and we lived in Matthews at the time. Our dream was to meet in the middle – right in the heart of downtown Charlotte where most of the beer-drinking crowd seems to congregate during nights and weekends. But we just couldn’t agree. So, in an effort to salvage our friendship, we gracefully parted ways.

Since then, we’ve been hard at work, perfecting recipes, meeting with potential investors, scoping out local artists and learning the ins and outs of owning your own brewpub. And we’ve learned that location matters.

When you’re thinking about starting your own brewery, there are a few things you have to consider when it comes to the space you’ll occupy. Here’s what we’ve garnered from years of searching for that perfect place to brew and serve…

1. Go where the people are. Seems like common sense, right? But you’d be surprised at how many arguments we had over this issue (mainly because competition becomes a concern in more densely populated areas – but I’ll get to that more in my next point.)

Though I still sometimes wonder what would have happened if we had stuck with the brew-on-premise thing, I’m honestly glad we didn’t. Huntersville is a cool place, but the exact spot we were considering was in Davidson (not to be confused with North Davidson (NoDa) where the heart of Charlotte’s craft beer scene and local arts scene is currently located.) Statistically speaking, I really don’t think we would have attracted enough people from the outskirts of Charlotte to our space in such a remote area.

2. Competition is a good thing. We had a hard time convincing our friends of this. Part of the reason they wanted to stay in North Charlotte and avoid NoDa is because there is more competition in center city. Most of the local brewpubs are in NoDa and Plaza Midwood.

But in the craft beer industry, there’s really no such thing as competition. It’s all about collaboration. Think of your competitors as potential partners who can help your business grow. We’re all in this together, people.

Plus, since our mission is to help local artists, we also want to be near the arts scene in Charlotte. Right now, that also happens to be where all the local breweries are popping up.

3. Obey zoning laws. Check into the specific laws for your city. Charlotte’s zoning laws have eased up a bit since the growth of the craft beer industry, but there are still some regulations that could prevent you from opening up shop. If you do decide on a specific location, make sure it’s up to the city’s standards for breweries.

4. Have a budget in mind and be flexible. After abandoning the brew-on-premise idea, we started talking with a few potential investors. They had a budget in mind, but in today’s economy, it was really difficult to find commercial real estate within that budget – at least not in the locations we were hoping for.

Ultimately, we decided that the right location is important enough to wait for, so we didn’t jump at every piece of property that came our way, and that’s why we’re still waiting to find a good space. But if you’re eager to get started, and your budget is limited, be willing to sacrifice when it comes to location and be ready with alternative marketing and distribution strategies if you’re not where the people are, as we mentioned in point #1.

5. A house is not a home. The building and location are important, but they aren’t at the heart of what we do. We brew beer because we love it, and we will keep doing it at home and as a hobby, even if our dream of having a commercial facility never pans out. Don’t lose site of why you do what you do in the quest to find the perfect space to do it. After all, a house is not a home. A home is where you and your loved ones are located, and if all else fails, you can still throw a big bash at your place to celebrate your accomplishments as a homebrewer.