Personal experience showed Deborah Lewis and her husband, Jim, that finding home-brewing supplies could mean a trip to Pensacola or an order via the Internet. With new-found space available to them through their other business, Computers Plus, the couple opened Hop Heads.
“My husband and I have been brewing beer for years,” Deborah Lewis said. “It’s just a great hobby.”
With Hop Heads, they offer grains, barley, hops, supplies and advice.
“We’ll have kits that all you have to do when you get home is supply water,” Lewis also said.
Since Hop Heads opened early this May, Lewis said all the inventory has yet to arrive. Some plans include the addition of a grain mill for home brewers who like to crush their own. Other plans include classes and possibly a brewer’s club.
The entire concept of Hop Heads, Lewis added, comes from the pure enjoyment of the brewing.
“I haven’t had a bad batch of beer that we’ve made,” she said. “I think there’s something about making it yourself and the satisfaction.”
LOCATION: 26-C N.W. Racetrack Road, near Choctawhatchee High School
HOURS: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Mondays through Fridays
INFINITE LASERS LLC
Very few things exist that Drew Cooper can’t engrave upon, he said.
Cooper and his daughter, Maddi Cooper, opened family-owned Infinite Lasers in April 2012, and by December they had relocated to a larger space in the McGuire’s plaza in Destin.
“When I was in the military, I handled a lot of the memorials and going-aways, and I had always been interested in the engraving aspect,” Cooper said, adding that he brings the old-school know how to the shop while Maddi brings the new-school.
“We can engrave on metal,” he continued. “It’s not the traditional engraving like an etch.”
They can also create custom awards for people, providing affordable recognition pieces for sports teams, squads and organizations as well as military memorials or honorariums. The Coopers can engrave on glass and acrylic, laptop computers and iPads, even guitars and rocks.
“It’s imagination,” Cooper said. “You bring in an idea and a piece of what you want engraved, and we’ll engrave it.”
Although Infinite Lasers did take over the phone number for the now-closed Destin Trophy shop, Cooper said “we’re a new business.”
LOCATION: 45 Harbor Blvd., Destin, near McGuire’s restaurant
HOURS: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Mondays through Fridays
Meagan O’Brien sipped her beer and bit her tongue as the man next to her tried to describe some of the 60 craft beers at Sugar Maple to his date. Turns out, he didn’t know his ales from his hefeweizens.
“You could tell it was, like, a first date,” O’Brien recalled. “She kept asking questions, and this guy just kept making up stuff to answer her questions.”
O’Brien, 31, could have easily set him straight. A sales representative for Tallgrass, a craft beer brewed in Kansas, she’s also a certified Cicerone – kind of a sudsy version of a sommelier.
Although O’Brien didn’t correct the man at the bar, she had the satisfaction of knowing that the men-know-beer/women-prefer-wine cliché could be on its way out, thanks to a growing wave of interest by women in craft beer.
Groups for beer-drinking women are springing up nationwide, including Barley’s Angels, an international club that started a Milwaukee chapter last fall.
Craft beer sales in general have doubled in the last six years and are set to triple by 2017, according to BeerPulse.com. Many of those customers are women between 25 and 34 who appreciate the nuanced flavors of small-batch beers.
They’re also the ones surprising bartenders with orders for IPA instead of Chardonnay, and they’re brewing their own at home, too.
According to a 2012 Gallup poll, beer has been the favorite beverage among drinkers since 1985. It typically held second place as the adult beverage of choice for females, but recently, beer has edged out wine among women ages 18 to 34.
O’Brien and three other women started the local chapter of Barley’s Angels dedicated to beer education and discussion. Monthly meetings, held at various locations, are open to the public and are announced on the group’s Facebook site. They draw as many as 40 women, most in their 20s and 30s, who talk about beer, share home-brewing tips and, of course, sample their subject matter.
“I like craft beer a lot, and this seemed like a good opportunity to meet with other people who like beer,” said Sarah Booth, 29, during a recent Barley’s Angels class about pairing beers with food at the Rumpus Room downtown. “It’s just what I like to drink. It feels more personal drinking something that’s brewed in a small batch.”
Julia Herz, the craft beer program director for the Colorado-based Brewers Association, has her own theories on why many women are moving toward craft beer, defined as the product of a brewery with annual production of 6 million barrels of beer or less.
Women in their 20s and 30s are in “the sweet spot” for craft beer consumption, Herz said. They’re the same quality-minded people who are buying artisanal cheeses and fair trade coffees and who don’t mind waiting for a bartender to shake a craft cocktail.
Craft beer is an affordable way to buy artisanal. The cost of a bottle of beer, usually less than a bottle of wine, affords aficionados a chance to sample several craft beer flavors for a “simple trade up in price compared to wine,” Herz said.
When Holly DeShaw, 31, opened Blackbird Bar in 2008, she decided to sell 80 varieties of craft beer because that’s what she likes to drink. She says her customers are knowledgeable about craft beer, and the state’s craft beer in particular.
“We do have wine, but it’s not our focus,” said DeShaw, whose tavern is part of a hub of craft beer bars in the Bay View neighborhood, including Sugar Maple, Romans’ Pub and Palm Tavern, which made Draft Magazine’s list of the top craft beer bars in the country.
Some women DeShaw’s age jokingly refer to wine as “mom juice,” because their mothers drank wine or girly cocktails, thanks in part to the Cosmo craze popularized by “Sex and the City.”
Image also factors into the reason that women are gravitating to craft beer.
“This is bold for me to say, but beer in the past has been marketed as a gender-specific beverage to men,” Herz said. While some macro beer producers use women in tank tops to sell beer, the 2,300 craft brewers in the U.S. generally market in a way that’s not gender-specific.
One exception is Monroe’s Minhas Brewery, which makes Chick Beer, a light beer created by Shazz Lewis and her husband, Dave, founding partners in an upscale beer, wine and spirits store in Maryland. When their research showed that women drink 700 million cases of beer a year, Shazz contracted with Minhas in 2011 to create a 97-calorie brew. Chick Beer is sold in Wisconsin and several other states and comes in a six-pack carrier made to look like a purse.
Tapping old beliefs
If craft beer producers have learned to make beer a genderless beverage, bartenders are still on a learning curve. Beer expert O’Brien recalls the time she ordered a $12 glass of Angry Monk. The bartender asked what she thought of it, and she mentioned that it seemed a little sour – a term meaning that the beer would benefit from more time in the bottle to mature the taste. He offered to add soda water.
Milwaukeean Lucy Saunders, author of “The Best of American Beer and Food: Pairing Cooking with Craft Beer” and beercook.com, says those bartenders are missing the boat by underestimating a woman’s palate and knowledge of beer.
When Saunders goes out to drink, she said, “they hand me a wine list.” At some bars, if she orders a beer she gets steered toward fruit beers.
Many women, such as Christine “Boo” Wisniewski of Milwaukee, found their way into craft beer by learning to brew it. The former Milwaukee Brewing Co. brewer is particularly fond of IPA – although, she said, some bartenders seem surprised when she orders it. It’s the beer she prefers to brew herself.
For Andrea Miller, 31, learning about craft beer at a holiday beer exchange at work turned her from wine drinker to beer connoisseur and home brewer. “I’m a bottling bad-ass,” said the group sales manager at the Milwaukee Public Museum. “I can bottle a beer in 19 seconds.”
Still, beer “is a little bit of a boys club,” said Rachel Reiman, during a home brewing session of Barley’s Angels in Milwaukee. She notices that whenever she and her husband tour a brewery and mention that they’re home brewers, “they immediately start talking to my husband.”
There were even fewer female brewers in 1989, the year Wisconsin native Teri Fahrendorf became only the second woman craft beer brewmaster in the country. Bucking the male-dominated beer culture wasn’t easy, but the former systems analyst has known that she was destined for her current career since she was 9. That’s when she spent a dime on a book about fermentation and brewing at a St. Pius X rummage sale in Wauwatosa.
“I was disappointed to learn that you had to have a factory,” Fahrendorf said, laughing.
In 2007, she hit the road to meet other brewers and blog about her travels. She called it the “pink boots tour,” named for her version of the rubber boots brewers wear. Her travels led to the formation of the Pink Boots Society, an organization for women who earn an income from beer. She’s the specialty malt account manager for Great Western Malting in Vancouver, Wash. Beer cook Saunders has found a few places, including Sugar Maple, where she’s comfortable sitting by herself and ordering an IPA without being steered in a different direction. It’s a sign of changing times for women who are serious about beer.
Said Saunders, “I think women ordering more diverse styles of beer as a matter of personal taste and not being guided into the light and pretty category is evolving.”
There was no judging or scorekeeping as local home brewers brought their creations to West Roxbury’s Porter Café on Saturday for a tasting event. Instead, new friends were made and beer was savored at the friendly gathering.
“It’s a great opportunity to try all of these local beers and to meet all of these people,” said Dermot Loftus, 39, co-owner of Porter Café. After hearing back from several home brewers, Loftus said, he was surprised at how much beer was being made locally. He even had to remind everyone, according to home brewer Joe Murphy, that participants could only bring in a few bottles, for fear that there would be too much to drink.
“The fun in home brewing is sharing,” said Murphy, 42, of Farquhar Street in Roslindale. “Very few home brewers hoard their beer.” As a result, he said, “An event like this is great.”
Murphy first started making his own suds a few years ago after rediscovering an old brewing kit his sister gave him as a present nearly a decade ago. Only using the ingredients in the aged kit, the first batch, naturally, did not turn out so well.
“But I knew it had promise,” he said. Now an active home brewer, he uses techniques such as extract brewing and bottles with his own label, Yellowbird. After he is finishes a batch, he gives the excess barley to his sister, Lori Murphy, who then turns it into dog treats.
“Apparently, dogs love it,” said Murphy, 38, of Durnell Avenue in Roslindale.
Experience varied from brewer to brewer. Some, like Murphy, have been involved in the hobby for some time. Others, like Vinny Mannering, have only just started. The craft beer he brought, the first one he ever brewed, turned sour and carbonated after spending six months in the bottle. Yet he wasn’t discouraged.
“The best thing that comes out of this is to have one more person doing craft brewing,” said Mannering, 26, of Jackson Street in Quincy. A native of West Roxbury, Mannering’s love of craft beer started in college and only grew once his friend created TapHunter, a smart phone application that allows consumers to find local craft beer outlets.
“If you don’t get sick of Bud Light after the first few years of college, there’s no helping you,” he said.
Others at the event felt the same way, saying that craft brewing offered them the opportunity to make something out of the ordinary.
“None of these beers would exist if I didn’t make them, for better or worse,” said Justin Armstrong, 35, of Walter Street in Roslindale. One of his beers, a baked apple barley wine, speaks to his view of craft brewing as “a good combo between drinking and cooking.”
But for the most part, participants simply relished the experience. Although most of the brewers did not know each other at the beginning of the event, by the end they were chatting like old friends.
Keith Kirchoff, 31, of South Fairview Street in Roslindale, said that past events between home brewers have been more than just contests.
“I got to know a lot of awesome people I wouldn’t have known otherwise,” said Kirchoff.
JUNEAU, Alaska — The Alaskan Brewing Co. is going green, but instead of looking to solar and wind energy, it has turned to a very familiar source: beer.
The Juneau-based beer maker has installed a unique boiler system in order to cut its fuel costs. It purchased a $1.8 million furnace that burns the company’s spent grain — the waste accumulated from the brewing process — to generate steam that powers the majority of the brewery’s operations.
Company officials now joke they are now serving “beer-powered beer.”
What to do with spent grain was seemingly solved decades ago by breweries operating in the Lower 48. Most send the used grain, a good source of protein, to nearby farms and ranches to be used as animal feed.
But there are only 37 farms in southeast Alaska and 680 in the entire state as of 2011, and the problem of what to do with the excess spent grain — made up of the residual malt and barley — became more problematic after the brewery expanded in 1995.
The Alaskan Brewing Co. had to resort to shipping its spent grain to buyers in the Lower 48. Shipping costs for Juneau businesses are especially high because there are no roads leading in or out of the city; everything has to be flown or shipped in. However, the grain is a relatively wet byproduct of the brewing process, so it needs to be dried before it is shipped — another heat intensive and expensive process.
“We had to be a little more innovative just so that we could do what we love to do, but do it where we’re located,” Alaskan Brewing co-founder Geoff Larson said.
But the company was barely turning a profit by selling its spent grain. Alaskan Brewing gets $60 for every ton of the waste it sent to farms in the Lower 48, but it costs them $30 per ton to ship.
So four years ago, the brewery started looking at whether it could use spent grain as an in-house, renewable energy source and reduce costs at the same time.
While breweries around the world use spent grain as a co-fuel in energy recovery systems, “nobody was burning spent grain as a sole fuel source for an energy recovery system, for a steam boiler,” says Brandon Smith, the company’s brewing operations and engineering manager.
It contracted with a North Dakota company to build the special boiler system after the project was awarded nearly $500,000 in a grant from the federal Rural Energy for America Program.
The craft brewery is expecting big savings once the system is fully operational in about a month’s time. Smith estimates that the spent grain steam boiler will offset the company’s yearly energy costs by 70 percent, which amounts to about $450,000 a year.
Alaskan Brewing Co. makes about 150,000 barrels of beer a year. The beer is distributed in 14 states after recent entries into the Texas, Wisconsin and Minnesota markets.
Alaskan Brewing brews several varieties of beer, but it is best-known for its Alaskan Amber, an alt-style beer. The company is also known for its distinctive beer labels, including featuring a polar bear on its Alaskan White Belgian-style ale.
When asked which beer’s spent grain burns the best Smith joked, “We’re still trying to figure that out. We have our suspicions.”
Smith said he hasn’t been contacted by other breweries regarding implementing the project but “absolutely” believes the system could be applied at other, bigger breweries that dry their spent grain.
Anheuser-Busch InBev, the world’s largest brewer, has been repurposing its spent grain for the past century, selling it to local farmers.
Mike Beck, director of utilities support at Anheuser-Busch InBev, told The Associated Press in an e-mail that spent grains are not currently a viable energy source for its breweries. However, Beck noted that the company regularly investigates new technologies to see if they could be applicable to its operations.
Anheuser-Busch InBev does employ bio-energy recovery systems, which turn wastewater into biogas, in most of its U.S. breweries. That provides up to 9 percent of the fuel needed in its boilers, he said.
By Trip Burns
For many large companies, sustainability can be a buzz term, a simple marketing ploy for sympathy and sales. For Sierra Nevada, the widely-distributed craft beer out of Chico, California, sustainability actually appears to mean something. We stopped in Sierra’s headquarters to see what environmental brewing looks like. Many of the raw ingredients (hops and barley) are sourced locally or via ultra-efficient shipping routes. Recycled paper is used for packaging. And the roof of the facility is covered with more than 10,500 solar panels—one of the largest privately-owned solar installations in America.
“We think in closed loop systems,” Cheri Chastain, Sierra’s sustainability manager, told me. “We take the byproduct of everything we do and think about how we can use it in another process.” That means that spent hops are used for compost to grow more hops and barley. Gasses from fermentation are captured and harnessed and put back into the brewing process for things like moving liquids or pressurizing tanks. Other brewing leftovers are fed to cows, which are then served, in the form of burgers, in the adjacent restaurant. Sierra’s president and brew master Ken Grossman has admitted that brewing will never be completely footprint-less, considering the quantities of water and energy used. But he’s still willing to invest to make his process less wasteful. That is, as long as people keep drinking beer.
The workshop will be held at Southern Appalachian Brewery at 822 Locust St. in Hendersonville.
This program will teach participants the skill of brewing their own beer. Chambers will provide a live presentation on the beer-making process, and participants will get to walk away with a basic knowledge for making beer at home.
The process includes the creation of wort with malted barley and the addition of hops for certain flavors and aromas. An explanation of the purposes and benefits of certain ingredients will coincide with the presentation.
The next step involves the fermentation process and what to look for in a successful homebrew. The final product can either be kegged or bottled, both of which are viable options for homebrewers. As a bonus, this live presentation will include how to make hard cider, a similar process to brewing beer.
Chambers is representing Asheville Brewer’s supply as a product resource, as well as for future questions and needs of the homebrewer.
After the presentation, attendees can participate in an optional beer tasting and social at Southern Appalachian Brewery, which has a number of different styles of beer on tap. The instructor will explain the different styles of ingredients that go into a variety of beers, which the participant can taste afterward for an additional cost.
The demonstration begins at 6:30 p.m., with the doors opening shortly before. Bring extra cash for the beer tasting. Registration is $15. Pre-register online at www.eco-wnc.org or call 828-692-0385. Seating is limited.
Joe Zonin: I’m one of the owners, and I started the company with Greg Shuck in 1995. The festival opened 10 or 12 years ago, and since it has started, we’ve gone to it every year.
Dive: How did the brewery’s creation come about?
JZ: We were originally home-brewing as a hobby, but then we decided that our brewing was something we could expand upon and make into a business. Greg and I spent a lot of time together in school at Cornell, and moved out to Seattle after graduation. Living in Seattle, we made the decision in 1993 to do something with our brewing. At the time, there were 10-12 breweries in Seattle and 2-3 breweries in North Carolina, and because the area was lacking them, we made the decision to start the company in Chapel Hill. Though it took us a few
years to get off the ground, we eventually got to where we are today.
Dive: What is unique about your brewing processes?
JZ: We use 100 percent malted barley for our base, while a lot of larger breweries will substitute corn and rice. We make very traditional beers, and focus solely on them as opposed to the experimentation into fruits, nuts, coffee, and chocolate beers that other companies tend to attempt. Carolina Pale Ale, Carolina Nut Brown Ale, and Wiggo are all flavors we’ve
continually produced since our home-brewing days.
Dive: What flavors are you bringing to the festival, and can you tell me about them?
JZ: Carolina Octoberfest is one of the beers we will be bringing to the festival. It’s one of our most popular seasonal beers, and it’s been the same recipe for 15 years. Carolina Pale Ale, Carolina IPA, and Carolina Nut Brown Ale are some other recipes that we’re bringing there as well.
Dive: What are your thoughts on the upcoming World Beer Festival, as a whole?
JZ: It’s a great time to meet new people, and a great time to reacquaint with old friends.
Dive: What are some of your future plans for your products?
JZ: The biggest plan for us on the near horizon is that we’ll be bottling our seasonal beers for availability in grocery stores, bars, etc. Starting with our Winter Porter, which will be available in a six-pack, it’ll be the beginning of our seasonal beers being available beyond our own facility.
For more information visit Carolina Brewing Company online.
It takes a village to raise a child, according to an African proverb.
Carter Park resident Jerrad Isch’s philosophy is that it takes a neighborhood to brew a batch of beer.
Isch’s beer-brewing equipment was gathering dust in the basement for about a decade. The discovery in spring 2011 that nearly all of his neighbors were brewers, however, revived his enthusiasm for the craft.
“I thought, why not brew together?” Isch said.
Isch resumed his brewing hobby and invited his brewing neighbors — Dylan McGee, Dutch Brooks and Craig Fitzherbert — to join him in the craft at a gathering at his house.
“I am kind of an instigator,” Isch said. “Dylan had been brewing beer (for eight years) on his own; I tend not to do it without 10 other people around.”
The gathering marked the first meeting of the 29th Street Brewers Guild, an informal gathering of Carter Park neighbors who brew beer together and swap tips, praise and critiques.
Isch knew for some time that McGee and neighbor Brooks sometimes brewed beer together the old-fashioned way, a method known as all-grain brewing, which doesn’t use extracts and takes nearly all day. But it wasn’t until spring 2011 that Isch found out another neighbor on the four corners at West 29th and Daniels streets was a brewer.
Isch was outside on 29th and noticed that the tailgate was left ajar on Fitzherbert’s parked SUV. Isch shut it, then called Fitzherbert to let him know. During the conversation, Fitzherbert revealed he also was a brewer.
Isch started to count. There were at least four brewers who lived in houses around the intersection.
“Jerrad decided to have a gathering,” Fitzherbert said. “We were kind of doing our own thing, bringing beer to each other. Then, we decided, ‘Let’s get together and brew together.’ It’s good community-building; it brings the neighborhood together.”
Since then, Isch’s brewing equipment is back in working condition. He’s planted hops in his backyard. He even won a third-place award in a brewing contest held by the Timbers Army, a fan club of the Portland soccer team.
Isch said the social aspect of the 29th Street Brewers Guild fueled his enthusiasm for brewing, Without it, that brewing equipment might still be in the basement.
“I love gathering people, connecting neighbors together,” Isch said.
That enthusiasm was contagious. A fifth neighbor at the four corners — Gary Kokstis — recently retired from a career at Nike and decided to take up brewing. He took a brewing class in August at Vancouver’s Bader Beer Wine Supply.
He said he’s also learned a lot from his neighbors. Many of the gatherings are spontaneous, and other neighbors who join in to taste the beer also get to know each other better, said neighbor Angie Russell.
“One of us will have a brew idea, and one of us will call and see if we want to get together,” McGee said.
At a guild gathering Sept. 17 in Kokstis’ backyard garden, Fitzherbert brought an idea for an Earl Grey IPA. Meanwhile, Isch decided to craft a traditional American pale ale with an infusion of peach blossom honey. Both Fitzherbert and Isch prefer extract brewing, which is quicker than all-grain. But they opt to bottle their beer, while McGee and Brooks store their beer in kegs.
“I’ve been impressed with Craig’s tea infusions,” Isch said.
Fitzherbert also has made a pale ale infused with Celestial Seasonings Bengal Spice tea and a black IPA with Tahitian vanilla.
“It’s like cooking,” Fitzherbert said. “You just find something. If you want to try it, you try it. It’s usually drinkable.”
The brewers whipped up their concoctions on two propane grills in Kokstis’s backyard garden.
“We’re missing an important part; we’re not drinking beer,” Kokstit said, heading for some coolers.
He presented a bottle of one of Fitzherbert’s brews to the brewers and some of their friends and spouses. Fitzherbert called the beer Silenus after the Greek god of drunkenness; alcohol content: a wee bit. That’s a running joke among the guild.
“You can come up with something you like, which isn’t always the case with things you buy,” Kokstis said.
Once Kokstis brews his first batch of beer, the four corners will be a perfect square of beer brewers.
“He better make a lot; he owes you a lot of beer,” quipped Kokstis’ wife, Katlin Smith.
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