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.









Why I Had to Stop Drinking Beer For a Time

This was me when I found out I couldn’t drink beer anymore…

If you have never heard of candida it is worth checking out… it has caused me a great deal of issues and it is my belief with our nation’s current diet that most people are struggling with symptoms caused by candida overgrowth.

When I first found out I had candida overgrowth, I became pretty depressed. Not because I couldn’t drink beer anymore (believe me, I had quite a few cheat days), but mostly because I thought I was relatively healthy. I ate a pretty good diet and exercised compared to most people, and I knew what a healthy diet consisted of. It didn’t make much sense to me that I would be one of the many Americans to suffer from this condition.

The most telltale sign for me was the psoriasis that developed on my fingers in the form of weeping scabs. As I mentioned above, I was relatively healthy so I didn’t make sense to me that I would develop an autoimmune condition at the age of 30. I began to wonder about the root cause of the disease, and I searched Google endlessly for “what really causes psoriasis.” That’s when I came across an article discussing the link between psoriasis and candida overgrowth. All of the symptoms listed in that article were ones I had experienced since my teenage years, including chronic fungal infections.

The list of symptoms related to candida overgrowth is a mile long, and I won’t go into it here, but I was pretty sure that’s what I had. A visit to my chiropractor confirmed the self diagnosis, and I began a rigorous lifestyle change to correct the issue. That change included cutting out sugars completely, because candida thrives on sugar.

You’d be surprised how much of what we eat contains sugar. It’s in just about everything, including grains, breads, pastas, rice, and even most fruits, excluding berries.

You may be asking yourself, “what could you eat.” And that’s the million-dollar question…

I had to stop drinking beer and other forms of alcohol for this reason. Though I did have some cheat days, the amount of craft beer I drank over a period of two years became significantly lower. I even cut it out entirely for 3 consecutive months.

Looking back, I now believe this experience was a blessing in disguise. Cutting down on the amount of alcohol I drank forced me to appreciate it even more, which led to a greater appreciation of craft beverages, and an even greater knowledge of the art form that is craft beer brewing.

Many Americans suffer from candida overgrowth and don’t even know it. And the really sad part is that some doctors don’t even believe candida exists. Rather than helping people by coaching them through a lifestyle change that includes a significantly modified diet, they prescribe toxic pills that merely mask symptoms of the condition.

Untreated, candida can cause severe leaky gut syndrome, chronic auto-immune conditions, and even cancer.

But the good news is, you can cure yourself, and you can do it without medication! It has been over two years since I discovered that I had candida, and I’m proud to report that it is now completely gone. I am able to enjoy craft beer and other alcoholic beverages in careful moderation, as well as the occasional sandwich, pasta/rice dish, or piece of toast.

The best part about this journey is that it taught me the true meaning of health and how to eat healthy. I have discovered that you can make a healthy version of just about any recipe out there. I even make my own grain-free hamburger buns out of flax seed meal, and they are much better than the normal store-bought variety!

If you think you might have candida and would like to ask me questions about my experience, I’m happy to answer them. This journey has also given me a newfound passion for educating others and helping them get on the right track to better health overall.

Click here to get in touch!

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.