Fort Myers, FL (PRWEB) March 27, 2013
Beecher Brewing Company today announced plans for a new microbrewery in downtown Fort Myers, Florida. The microbrewery will be the first in the greater Fort Myers’ area and will serve high-quality craft beers accompanied by food selections that complement the beverages. The brewery will be located in the historic McCrory Building at 1525 Hendry Street, in close proximity to the waterfront. The 3,500 square feet facility is expected to be completed in August and a grand opening is planned for later this year.
Bill Frazer, the founder of Beecher Brewing Company, is engineer turned beer brewer and entrepreneur. After spending more than a decade in the automotive industry working for companies such as Saleen, Fisker Automotive and CODA Automotive, Inc., the Florida native now turns his engineering abilities toward craft brewing. His interest in brewing began as a hobby years ago when he started crafting beer with friends, and quickly turned into a passion as he perfected various beer recipes. Early in 2011 Bill made the decision to open a microbrewery and began researching the options.
Bill commented, “It’s amazing how well engineering skills translate into fine beer brewing. The attention to detail required and the equal importance of technical and creative skills are all key components of both successful engineering and brewing. I am excited to bring great beer to the Fort Myers area. Great beer is for everyone and I’m thrilled to share it with the people.”
Beecher Brewing Company plans to have 25 craft beers on tap, with an average of six brewed onsite, and a regularly rotating schedule of beers based on seasonal demand. The brewery will include a three barrel system, capable of brewing 90 gallons at a time. Food menu options will include chef selected appetizers and small dishes recommended to complement each of the beers. Further, Beecher Brewing Company expects to employ at least seven people initially and add more as the business grows.
About Beecher Brewing Company:
Beecher Brewing Co. was started in 2011 with the idea of a new era in craft beer brewing. By opening our doors to all the home brewers and beer lovers, we are tapping into the beer industry’s greatest resource. We are providing the opportunity for the best beers to be offered on a continually rotating basis. How do we know they are the best beers? Because you told us so. Our operation practices on the fundamental concepts of the democratic society this country was founded on: a beer company of the people, by the people and FOR THE PEOPLE. We work with our beer drinkers to ensure that we offer the brews that people want the most.
The foundation of Beecher Brewing Co. is the customers themselves. It is our customers who determine our product by submitting the recipes and then voting for the best ones. By doing this, we ensure every ounce of beer that hits the shelves with our name on it is delicious.
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.”
The state of Alabama may be a year away from the legalization of the personal manufacturing of beer, or “home brewing.”
In April 2012, The Alabama House of Representatives passed HB354 with a vote of 44-33. The bill, if approved by the senate, would effectively lift the ban on home brewing in Alabama. However, the bill was recently put on hold after the senate failed to vote on the measure before the end of the latest legislative session.
Republican Rep. Mac McCutcheon, from the 25th district, sponsored the bill along with other representatives.
According to the bill, anyone not convicted of a felony that is 21 or older will have the right to brew homemade beer, table wine, cider and mead for personal use. Along with the legalization, there will also be regulatory measures such as the prohibited sale of homemade alcohol and content restrictions limited to 8.5 percent alcohol by volume.
According to The Alabama Homebrewers Association, there are around one million home brewers living in the United States, with an estimated 5,000 living in Alabama. Alabama and Mississippi remain the only states in which home brewing is illegal.
Elliot Roberts, co-owner of Druid City Brewing Company in Tuscaloosa, said home brewing already has roots in Alabama.
“I think for the largest part, the people that want to brew beer are doing it, no matter what,” Roberts said. “If it’s legal, there will be more of a market to open stores for local commerce relating to it, and all of that money ultimately goes back into the local economy, which is what we are all about.”
After their humble beginnings as home brewers, Roberts and his Druid City Brewing co-founder, Bo Hicks, sought to legally bring their love for high quality craft beers to the public. Roberts believes the overall perception of home brewing is changing in Alabama due to microbreweries and groups that are vocal about alcohol legislation.
“I give all the credit in the world to Free The Hops folks,” Roberts said. “Those guys did so much for beer in Alabama that it created a market for good beer. When that happened more people realized that not all of it tasted like Bud Light, then people started to have a thirst for craft beers and began making their own.”
Free the Hops is a grassroots, non-profit organization focused on bringing high quality beers to Alabama.
A marquee talking point in the debate over legalization is the personal rights of American alcohol enthusiasts. One such home-brewing beer advocate happens to be the commander-in-chief, President Barack Obama. Obama’s personal recipe for White House Honey Brown Ale is the first alcoholic beverage to be brewed on the White House grounds and is available to the public on the official White House website.
Formal associations like AHA seek to remove the criminal stigma from a hobby that is cherished in the White House, but punishable by law in the state of Alabama.
Other grassroots groups, such as Free The Hops, have made headway in pushing for new alcohol legislation in Alabama. After extensive pressure from such groups, Gov. Robert Bentley signed the “Gourmet Bottle Bill” into law in May 2012. The bill, which took effect in August 2012, allows for looser restrictions on container size, paving the way for 22 ounce and 750 mL craft bottles. Until this bill was signed in to law, Alabama was the only state to regulate container size.
Caleb Morrison, a UA junior majoring in metallurgical engineering, said he sees promise for a college community in the passing of new alcohol legislation.
“If this bill passes, there will definitely be a higher influx of craft beers in stores,” Morrison said. “It would be nice to have more craft beers, and only a few places here have a selection past domestics – if microbreweries open as a result, that is jobs on top of products.”
Leading in today’s Crimson White:
Home is where the suds are Mar 03, 2013 (Menafn – Richmond Times-Dispatch – McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) –Brandon Tolbert started brewing beer at home about nine years ago, and caught the brewer’s bug. “It all started when my wife got me a starter kit,” said Tolbert, referring to one of the basic beer-making equipment kits available at home brewing supply stores for less than 100. “Over the years, I got more into it and more into craft beer in general,” said Tolbert, who joined the James River Homebrewers Association, a group of home brewing enthusiasts in the Richmond area who hold monthly meetings and host brew competitions. Tolbert won awards for his beers at several of the group’s competitions, including gold medals for his brown ale and imperial India pale ale. Now, Tolbert’s brewing hobby has turned into a job. He was recently hired as the head brewer at Extra Billy’s Smokehouse Brewery, as the local brewpub and barbecue restaurant seeks to broaden its offering of craft beers amid a growing craze among the beer-drinking public for new tastes. “All the old recipes are gone,” Tolbert said. “I will be creating all the new recipes that come off tap here.” That includes a pale ale that he has already brewed, to be followed by a brown ale, an India pale ale and an imperial pale ale. Most home brewers won’t become professional brewers. Yet any home brewer can make good beer with a little practice, local home brewing experts say. “It is a pretty easy thing to do,” said Tony Ammendolia, owner of Original Gravity, a home brewing supply store on Lakeside Avenue. “Some people may be intimidated at first because it’s something they have not done before. But as long as they pay attention to their sanitation, they can turn out some pretty good beer.” ********************** Original Gravity opened in November 2011 after Ammendolia worked in management at several retail stores. He has been a home brewer for 20 years. Business has been good, he said. Home brewing, which was legalized in the United States in 1978, is seeing a growth spurt. “When I first started, I did not have any friends that brewed,” he said. “Now, if somebody I am talking to doesn’t brew themselves, they know somebody that brews.” Dave Leon, president of the James River Homebrewers, said other factors are contributing to growth in home brewing, including the emergence of websites and social media that provide online help on how to brew at home. He thinks the economic downturn also may have been a factor. “I can go pay 12 bucks a six pack, or I can make my own beer for significantly less,” he said. But Leon is quick to add that home brewers are not the enemies of the microbrewery industry. “Our folks are the ones trying all the (commercial) beers out there because they want to see if it is something they can re-create,” he said. ********************** Richmond resident Jason Hamilton got into home brewing when his wife, Kristen, bought him a starter kit two Christmases ago. “She got it for me because I like beer, and I am kind of a detail-oriented, meticulous kind of person,” he said. With a brewing recipe book in hand, Hamilton started making beer, including the Belgian and Hefeweizen styles he likes so much. After brewing some batches using the basic ingredient kits, it is now hard for him to resist the urge to expand. Hamilton said he’d like to buy more carboys, the glass containers used for in-home fermentation, so he can make more than one batch at a time. “I would highly recommend doing it,” he said. “It is so much fun.” ********************** An important thing for the home brewer to remember: It is not legal to sell your home-brewed beer. Yet some home brewers do try to make the leap to professional, licensed status. Many of the Richmond-area’s new craft breweries are led by former home brewers. With the growth of the microbrewing industry nationwide, “there is a shortage of trained brewers,” said Mike Killelea, head brewer at Center of the Universe Brewing Co. in Hanover County and chairman of the Virginia Craft Brewers Guild. Trae Cairns, who opened Midnight Brewery in Goochland County early in 2012, was a home brewer for years before he decided to go into business for himself. The name of the brewery comes from the fact that Cairns often found himself brewing beer at midnight. “I had kind of an obsession with brewing, and I decided to take it a little different path than some do,” he said. He loves the process of making beer, which he likens to constructing a building. “You build from the ground up and then you’ve created something,” he said. With brewing “you take grain and water and hops and yeast and turn it into a beer,” he said. “The process has always fascinated me.” ********************** Original Gravity has dozens of ingredient kits for making beers ranging from India pale ales to blonde ales, oatmeal stouts and Belgian-style ales. The store also offers an array of ingredients to add some extra flavorings to beer, such as fruit purees, chocolate, ginger root, coriander seed, lemon peel, dried mugwort and vanilla beans. “So at the beginning level, you are spending about 200 to get everything you need,” Ammendolia said. After that initial investment, “the sky is the limit,” he said. Some hobbyists might catch a serious brewing bug and want to make the leap from using the pre-prepared malt extracts that come with starter kits to all-grain brewing, which means investing in more equipment. It is possible to invest thousands of dollars in brewing equipment. Ammendolia has a 3,500 brewing equipment system in his store. “A lot of our members have very complex systems that would be used by a professional brewery for their best batches,” said Leon. ___ (c)2013 the Richmond Times-Dispatch (Richmond, Va.) Visit the Richmond
Times-Dispatch (Richmond, Va.) at www.timesdispatch.com Distributed by MCT
Home is where the suds are
Mar 03, 2013 (Menafn – Richmond Times-Dispatch – McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) –Brandon Tolbert started brewing beer at home about nine years ago, and caught the brewer’s bug.
“It all started when my wife got me a starter kit,” said Tolbert, referring to one of the basic beer-making equipment kits available at home brewing supply stores for less than 100.
“Over the years, I got more into it and more into craft beer in general,” said Tolbert, who joined the James River Homebrewers Association, a group of home brewing enthusiasts in the Richmond area who hold monthly meetings and host brew competitions.
Tolbert won awards for his beers at several of the group’s competitions, including gold medals for his brown ale and imperial India pale ale.
Now, Tolbert’s brewing hobby has turned into a job.
He was recently hired as the head brewer at Extra Billy’s Smokehouse Brewery, as the local brewpub and barbecue restaurant seeks to broaden its offering of craft beers amid a growing craze among the beer-drinking public for new tastes.
“All the old recipes are gone,” Tolbert said. “I will be creating all the new recipes that come off tap here.”
That includes a pale ale that he has already brewed, to be followed by a brown ale, an India pale ale and an imperial pale ale.
Most home brewers won’t become professional brewers.
Yet any home brewer can make good beer with a little practice, local home brewing experts say.
“It is a pretty easy thing to do,” said Tony Ammendolia, owner of Original Gravity, a home brewing supply store on Lakeside Avenue. “Some people may be intimidated at first because it’s something they have not done before. But as long as they pay attention to their sanitation, they can turn out some pretty good beer.”
Original Gravity opened in November 2011 after Ammendolia worked in management at several retail stores. He has been a home brewer for 20 years.
Business has been good, he said. Home brewing, which was legalized in the United States in 1978, is seeing a growth spurt.
“When I first started, I did not have any friends that brewed,” he said. “Now, if somebody I am talking to doesn’t brew themselves, they know somebody that brews.”
Dave Leon, president of the James River Homebrewers, said other factors are contributing to growth in home brewing, including the emergence of websites and social media that provide online help on how to brew at home.
He thinks the economic downturn also may have been a factor. “I can go pay 12 bucks a six pack, or I can make my own beer for significantly less,” he said.
But Leon is quick to add that home brewers are not the enemies of the microbrewery industry. “Our folks are the ones trying all the (commercial) beers out there because they want to see if it is something they can re-create,” he said.
Richmond resident Jason Hamilton got into home brewing when his wife, Kristen, bought him a starter kit two Christmases ago.
“She got it for me because I like beer, and I am kind of a detail-oriented, meticulous kind of person,” he said.
With a brewing recipe book in hand, Hamilton started making beer, including the Belgian and Hefeweizen styles he likes so much. After brewing some batches using the basic ingredient kits, it is now hard for him to resist the urge to expand.
Hamilton said he’d like to buy more carboys, the glass containers used for in-home fermentation, so he can make more than one batch at a time.
“I would highly recommend doing it,” he said. “It is so much fun.”
An important thing for the home brewer to remember: It is not legal to sell your home-brewed beer.
Yet some home brewers do try to make the leap to professional, licensed status. Many of the Richmond-area’s new craft breweries are led by former home brewers.
With the growth of the microbrewing industry nationwide, “there is a shortage of trained brewers,” said Mike Killelea, head brewer at Center of the Universe Brewing Co. in Hanover County and chairman of the Virginia Craft Brewers Guild.
Trae Cairns, who opened Midnight Brewery in Goochland County early in 2012, was a home brewer for years before he decided to go into business for himself.
The name of the brewery comes from the fact that Cairns often found himself brewing beer at midnight.
“I had kind of an obsession with brewing, and I decided to take it a little different path than some do,” he said.
He loves the process of making beer, which he likens to constructing a building. “You build from the ground up and then you’ve created something,” he said.
With brewing “you take grain and water and hops and yeast and turn it into a beer,” he said. “The process has always fascinated me.”
Original Gravity has dozens of ingredient kits for making beers ranging from India pale ales to blonde ales, oatmeal stouts and Belgian-style ales. The store also offers an array of ingredients to add some extra flavorings to beer, such as fruit purees, chocolate, ginger root, coriander seed, lemon peel, dried mugwort and vanilla beans.
“So at the beginning level, you are spending about 200 to get everything you need,” Ammendolia said.
After that initial investment, “the sky is the limit,” he said.
Some hobbyists might catch a serious brewing bug and want to make the leap from using the pre-prepared malt extracts that come with starter kits to all-grain brewing, which means investing in more equipment.
It is possible to invest thousands of dollars in brewing equipment. Ammendolia has a 3,500 brewing equipment system in his store.
“A lot of our members have very complex systems that would be used by a professional brewery for their best batches,” said Leon.
___ (c)2013 the Richmond Times-Dispatch (Richmond, Va.) Visit the Richmond
Copyright (C) 2013, Richmond Times-Dispatch, Va.
Longneck Brew House
Address: 950 SE Indian Street, Stuart
Grand Opening: Begins 11 a.m. Friday
Grand Opening Specials: Happy hour prices all weekend
Normal business hours: 2-10 p.m.
STUART — Two men’s passion for beer is the driving force behind the newest beer enthusiast’s paradise, scheduled to open this weekend. Longneck Brew House will be the first and only bar in South Florida where beer lovers can enjoy a wide variety of craft beers brew their own on premise.
Charts of grains and hops and a periodic table of beer styles adorn the walls and a line of coppery brewing kettles sit waiting to be filled with grains and hops by brewers eager to experiment with ingredients and create their own beer without having to invest the time and space for home brewing.
Groups or individuals can come in for two to three hours, select an ale recipe, gather their ingredients, steep them in a brewing kettle, add yeast, and leave the rest to Longneck. In two to three weeks, beer makers can come back to bottle their 12.5 gallons of beer and slap on a custom label.
The Brew House guarantees that every beer made from their recipes will turn out like it’s supposed to.
Owners Scott Sundermeier and Bob Hitt wanted to offer a place that was more than just a corner bar, but somewhere they could share their love for brewing.
Two hundred pint glasses on display at Longneck Brewhouse from bars, pubs and breweries Sundermeier has visited since discovering the art of home brewing 14 years ago are testament to his enthusiasm for craft beer.
“I like beer a lot,” Hitt said, “But he’s fanatical.”
Longneck Brew House will offer nearly 100 different beers from light to dark, sweet to bitter, 24 on tap and 70 in a bottle.
The Brew House will also be about more than drinking with friends. The owners’ aim is to create a place where people can come together to create something to be proud of.
“It’s a unique experience,” Hitt said.
“Hang out with your friends, do something fun, and have something to show for it,” Sundermeier said.
Hitt expects the brewery to be popular with parties, group outings, even corporate retreats as friends and colleagues brew, drink, and share in the creation process.
The only other pub in Florida that offers brewing on site is in Jacksonville and there are only 20 bars that do so in the country, so Hitt is expecting Longneck Brew House to draw novice brewers and beer aficionados from Martin County and beyond.
Sundermeier and Hitt are excited for the opening on the first weekend in March and are thrilled to be pursuing a dream of brewing beer for a living, according to Sundermeier.
Longneck Brew House will also offer appetizers at the bar, home brewing supplies and a mug club that offers discounted drinks with membership.
A quotation generally attributed to Benjamin Franklin goes: “Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy,” which is why the large selection of artisan craft beers infiltrating the region from Petoskey Brewing have been making locals and non-locals alike very happy.
Only in its fourth month of operation after opening the last week of September 2012, business partners Patrick Dowd and Lou Grostinger used their past experience in craft beer brewing to create new beer products and to refurbish an old landmark building, making it Petoskey Brewing’s home base.
“We’re getting a lot of support from local residents as well as tourists, and … our motto is to lay heavily on distribution of our beer and that has been going well,” Dowd said. “We think we’re making really good beer.”
The brewery’s sales are on target thanks to support from the local community and from tourists, too. Because of the warm reception, the brewery even expanded to make changes and adjustments.
“We’ve been happy with how the local residents as well as the local bars and restaurants have embraced our beers,” Dowd said.
Petoskey Brewing has 18 taps in their establishment, eight of which are permanent fixtures, and the rest are on a rotating schedule as new brews become available. Local restaurants and businesses from Mackinaw City to Gaylord now serve Petoskey Brewing beer, thanks in part to their distribution channel through Bayside Beverage in Petoskey, Dowd said.
“Our whole protocol is to start local with Bayside Beverage and then expand outside the area afterwards,” Dowd said.
Expanding includes working with a distributor in Traverse City to bring Petoskey Brewing beer to the Grand Traverse area, and another distributor in the Grand Rapids area in the very near future, Dowd said.
“With the ever-changing beer menu, the biggest change is that customers will see our beer in more and more of their favorite restaurants,” Dowd said. “And probably around April we will have some of our beers in cans for sale in the local area.”
Patrons to the brewery also will have more food options in the near future. The food menu is slated to expand sometime in mid-February with some more pub-style offerings, including light entrees such as soups and salads, Dowd said.
Over the winter holidays in December and January, Petoskey Brewing remained very busy with school vacations, skiers in the area and local residents. Patrons heard live music performed in the establishment for the first time, and having musical entertainment at the business is another option for the future.
“The music was something Lou and I decided to give as a benefit to our patrons,” Dowd said. “We thought it was pretty successful. Our space is conducive to music. We set up our acoustics that if we have a small band or duet in the taproom it doesn’t overwhelm conversation. We try to pick bands that are not going to overpower the space available. Most of the folks we had were either acoustic or one amplifier to amplify the voice or something like that. We are still bringing in entertainment on a non- regular basis and experimenting with what bands or entertainers seem to do the best job here in particular to our space and the patrons that come in.”
Visit Petoskey Brewing’s facebook page to find out the latest information about what is happening by searching for “Petoskey Brewing.” Also, more information is available online at www.petoskeybrewing.com, including historical details about the property, menu items, brews on tap and the latest news. Petoskey Brewing is located on the Harbor-Petoskey Road at 1844 M-119.
In keeping with my resolve to be more “light” or positive in these columns, Chanel Davis’ work on craft beers last Monday, “Homegrown beer taps a growing market,” tickled some memories about “home brewed” beer, which I’d like to share.
The homegrown she uses and “home brewed” I do are not the same. The difference is in the consumer and intent; whereas “craft beer” involves many barrels, taxes, and sales to consumers, home brewed is not sold and limited to personal consumption (how much can one consume?). Today’s “lite beer” played a pivotal role in putting both craft and home brewed beers in a more favorable light (pun intended).
Before 1967 there was only real beer, not the reduced alcohol/calorie versions we enjoy less today. Correction: We must drink more of the lite alternative today to get the same enjoyment as one got from the earlier decades. Miller Lite was devised as a marketing ploy in 1975 with 4 percent or less alcohol to get us to buy more beer. Unfortunately, it’s hard to reduce the amount of grain (potential alcohol) to make beer without affecting its taste. So, we drank more cheep domestic beer and enjoyed it less.
That national trend to low-cal beers led to the realization by those living west of the Rocky Mountains that they couldn’t care less. Their major brewery, Coors in Golden, Colorado, avoided that mass marketing ploy. Not only did Coors boast of using pure mountain water, but their alcohol level remained up there. They also avoided pasteurizing the beer, as the brewing and bottling processes remained sterile and the bottles/cans weren’t stored for long periods. It really tasted great!
That led to “beer envy” east of the Rockies and a movie in 1977 called “Smokey and the Bandit.” It became a cult classic with several spinoffs. The plot involved Burt Reynolds and Sally Field hurriedly driving an 18-wheeler loaded with 400 cases of unpasteurized, great-tasting Coors from Colorado to Georgia, while being chased by a bungling sheriff and deputy. The beer was illegal east of the Rockies.
That also led to adventures making and bottling my own beer, which may be worth another column. My favorites were the dark or stout beers from overseas. It required using a 46 oz. can of malt extract or concentrate, some special yeast, 5 gallons of water, and leaving it to ferment for a couple weeks. My brewing kit and supplies came from School Kid’s Records on Spring Garden Street in Greensboro. Back in 1980, such a bottle of beer cost me about $0.25 and tasted great most of the time. There were mistakes. Typical yield was 48 long-neck bottles.
One can still brew that way. See http://www.myhomebrewnetwork.com/laaglander-home-brewing-supplies.html and numerous other references online. Local supplies for personal brewing can be found at Big Dan’s Brew shed on N.C. 68 near I-40.
Also, we have a fine club of home brewers called HOPS in town (High Point Observers of Pint Science), which meets at the Liberty Steakhouse on the second Wednesday of each month. See highpointhops.com.
There is some fun beer info out there from studies on the relationship of beer consumption to almost everything including GDP, stress, unemployment, good and bad economic times, depression, the business cycle, etc. Belgium hosts a “Beeronomics Conference.”
Lastly, there can be life-changing events from exposure to good beer. While brewing in the 1980s at home, I’d sometimes send a case of it back with my daughter, Janis, to Wilmington as she attended UNC-Wilmington. While lab analyzing (sampling) some of my stuff, she met future husband Tim.
Chuck Bino lives in High Point with his wife, Sue, after technical and management careers in manufacturing and retail. Representations of fact and opinions are solely those of the author.
Past a pair of caramel-colored couches, Paul Terpilowski sips a pint of pale ale while a Bob Dylan ballad mingles with small talk.
It’s a Saturday night in Homewood, and the native Englishman, like other patrons, has found a place that suits his palette.
“I just like the ambience—an actual bar in America with no sports screens,” Terpilowski said. “It’s as close as I can get to an English pub. You’ve got quality beer and you have to use the art of conversation.”
Homewood, IL, USA
If not for the sign outside that reads Grape Grain Co., a passer-by might mistake the decor and warm lighting for that of a bookstore.
But the works that line the wooden shelves aren’t rare first editions. Instead, there’s quaffable treasures such as a Jigsaw pinot noir from Oregon or an Arrogant Bastard, a boastfully bold California ale featuring a smug, beer mug-gripping demon on the label.
A line of rear coolers is filled with carryout brews, eight craft beers are on tap and another three-dozen tap handles lie in wait above the bar’s wine glass rack for the next keg changeover.
But there is not a single television to draw eyes or drown conversation.
“This isn’t a sports bar,” Jim Rooke of nearby Glenwood said as he joined his wife and another couple for a round of drinks. “I wouldn’t be here if it was a sports bar.”
Homewood’s new nightspot puts hops before hoops and grapes over gridiron. Owner Ron Khalaf wanted it that way when he opened Grape Grain in September as a place where patrons could taste and learn about beers and wines, have a drink or two at the bar and buy favorites to bring home.
The Homewood Village Board welcomed the addition to an already bustling downtown just east of the Metra tracks at Dixie Highway. Trustees, however, held Khalaf to his no-TV pledge in late November when they agreed to pull the cork on what had been a two-drink limit.
Homewood typically requires bar owners to commit to a 3-1 food-to-liquor sales ratio. Grape Grain doesn’t serve food, so its initial license was limited to two drinks per customer.
“It’s not really that people need more than two drinks,” Khalaf said. “It’s just that when you get a customer who requests another drink and you tell them, ‘Well, we have a two-drink limit,’ they look at you like, ‘This is a bar.’”
The new license removed the limit while stipulating that Grape Grain could not install TVs or seek video gambling machines. Homewood officials said they wanted to support a nice addition to the town’s nightlife.
“I’ve been there several times and I don’t even drink,” said Trustee Anne Colton. “It’s a good place to talk.”
Khalaf aims to keep it that way. He plans to add more couches and a piano to bolster his live music offerings.
“I could’ve done a sports bar with 100 TVs and had the food, but we didn’t want that,” he said. “We wanted something different.”
Khalaf says his next step is to open a brewery in Homewood. For now, he sells home-brewing supplies and offers monthly beer-making classes.
There also are regular wine and beer tastings at Grape Grain, though Miller Lite and white zinfandel drinkers may be disappointed.
“We only serve craft beers and fine wines,” Khalaf said. “Our motto is drink something different tonight.”
HICKORY N.C. – The first batch of beer is at least a couple of weeks away from being brewed at the new Skull Coast Brewing Company brewery, but the Chief Drinking Officer, First Mate and Brewster are hard at work.
On Wednesday, Skull Coast founder and Chief Drinking Officer Dave Fox rushed around the active construction site that will house the brewery at the former Hollar Hosiery Mill on Lenoir Rhyne Boulevard.
While Fox conferred with construction company representatives and discussed the placement of the brewery’s new equipment, First Mate Mark Olson met with bar staff applicants, hoping to find people who will make Skull Coast’s customers “come in and feel like they’ve had a great experience, as opposed to just having a great beer.”
Brewster Alexa Long was working on perfecting her recipes for a pumpkin stout, a chili-chocolate porter and a special brew that Skull Coast will announce after opening.
Fox notes that a passion for high-quality beer in North Carolina is held not only by producers, but also by consumers. “There is such a great following for craft beer here in North Carolina it’s insane,” he said. “Anybody that you meet, you can have almost an encyclopedic kind of discussion with them about all the different types of craft brew . . . It’s remarkable, the knowledge-level that there is here. Some people call them ‘beer geeks,’ but they really know their stuff.”
The opening of the new brewery will give people in the area yet another place to sip locally-made craft beers and represents the rise of craft brewing in North Carolina.
North Carolina, Fox said, has become “kind of a new Colorado or Portland. The fact that major breweries are now moving out into North Carolina just speaks to why you would want to be here to begin with.”
Those major breweries Fox mentions include Sierra Nevada and New Belgium, two of the largest craft beer producers in the country, which both have plans to open new breweries near Asheville.
Craft breweries coming from the West Coast are not the only players in North Carolina’s brewing industry. Smaller operations, often run by home brewers turned professional, are growing in number.
Win Bassett serves as the executive director of the North Carolina Brewers Guild. He said there were 26 breweries in North Carolina in 2005. At the end of 2012, the number of breweries in the state stood at 73. About 16 breweries opened in North Carolina in 2012 and another five or six breweries have announced plans to open in 2013, he said. “You don’t start a brewery if you intend to make money,” Bassett said. “You start a brewery if you have a passion for the craft.”
Beer ‘geek’ gets started
One of those ‘beer geeks’ Fox referred to might include Jason Howard, whose passion for craft beer led him to start Howard Brewing Company in Lenoir with his wife early in 2012.
Howard took up home brewing as a hobby more 10 years ago while he was living in Michigan and operating a construction company. He grew increasingly interested in home brewing when he moved the construction company to North Carolina six years ago and became the president of a local home brew club.
When demand for his work in custom homebuilding waned, Howard saw an opportunity to take his brewing hobby to the next level. He took time to develop a business plan, and, about eight months after he decided to become a professional brewer, Howard Brewing produced its first batch of beer in August 2012.
Howard now has accounts in Lenoir, Boone, Blowing Rock, Morganton and Hickory, and he plans to expand to Greensboro soon. “I’ve been happy with the amount of beer that we’ve been able to move. We need to do more, but I think that will come in time as we get more brand recognition,” he said.
Howard thinks Western North Carolina’s brewing industry is growing because of the number of active, outdoor-oriented people in the 21- to 40-year-old demographic. He said such people have embraced the craft beer movement and helped their local breweries thrive.
“We’re finding that North Carolina is getting identified throughout the nation as a place to go for great beer. That was usually reserved for the West Coast, up in the Pacific Northwest and Seattle and Portland and all the Colorado beer towns, but it’s fun that North Carolina is now getting on the map that way,” Howard said.
As North Carolina’s reputation as a beer destination has grown, the popularity of beer festivals in the state has increased. The Hickory Hops Brew Festival will celebrate its 11th anniversary in April. Hickory Hops is hosted by Olde Hickory Brewery and the Hickory Downtown Development Association. The festival allows beer lovers to sample craft beers from about 50 breweries in the southeast.
Connie Kincaid, executive director of the Hickory Downtown Development Association, said events such as Hickory Hops and Oktoberfest have “an incredible economic impact on this area.” She said the Western Piedmont Council of Governments analyzed factors including attendance and number of hotel rooms reserved to estimate the economic impact of Hickory Hops in 2012 at $250,000.
Bobby Bush, a home brewer who has written columns for brewing magazines, helped found Hickory Hops and the Carolinas Championship of Beers competition. The competition rewards brewers who participate in Hickory Hops and offers awards in about 134 categories of beer.
NC laws are beer friendly
Bush said certain state laws allow breweries to thrive in North Carolina. In 2005, the General Assembly passed a Pop the Cap Bill, legislation which raised the alcohol by volume limit on beer from 6 percent to 15 percent. The bill was a “big sign to brewers that this state was more beer-friendly than they’d thought,” he said.
Bush said that North Carolina laws allowing breweries to offer onsite tastings and beer sales are more liberal than laws in many states. Brewers in North Carolina are able to self-distribute their beers, allowing them to circumvent formal distributors. Howard said the state “seems to have a good relationship with all the small breweries, meaning they’re on our side and we’re all trying to do this together as opposed to being antagonistic.”
In addition to the benefit of laws that support the brewing industry, new brewers can benefit from the assistance and advice of established brewers. When Fox realized Skull Coast’s new facility would not be ready in time to brew the beer for an account with Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, he contacted Howard and was able to use Howard Brewing’s equipment. “Who else would do that?” Fox asked. “I think people in a lot of other industries would say, ‘Oh, you can’t make it? Let me try to get in.’”
Fox said local brewers have been welcoming and have provided practical advice. “Even as we were laying out some of our brewery, Olde Hickory invited some of the contractors to come by and take a look a their place to see if they had any questions on certain things that they needed to be aware of or pitfalls that they wanted to watch out for.”
Steven Lyerly, who has co-owned Olde Hickory Brewery since 1995, said the new breweries do create competition for him, but the competition does not concern him. “You reach a critical mass. The more that’s out there, the more exposure the people have to craft beer, and then they’ll start drinking more craft,” he said. “Every drop of beer I make this year is sold, so I’m not worried about that. I’m worried about trying to keep up. I think in the foreseeable future it is just going to get busier and busier.”
Skull Coast almost ready
At Skull Coast, plans for the layout of the taproom and brewery were stretched out on the unfinished taproom’s bar, and massive, 30-pane windows allowed shafts of sunlight to filter through the construction dust.
The brewery was first scheduled to open last summer, but construction and equipment delays continue to push back the opening date. “I’d like to think that we can be up and brewing this month,” Olson said, “but we’re kind of at the mercy of the construction schedule . . . I think the value now is that no one’s rushing anything. The proper time is being put in.”
Fox started Skull Coast as a contract brewing company in 2009. In contract brewing, a brewer uses another company’s equipment to brew its own beer. When developers approached Fox with an opportunity to brew at the old mill, “we decided that we didn’t want to contract anymore, just because we wanted to be able to brew our own beers. We have so many new recipes that we wanted to make sure that they were in our house,” Fox said.
Olson said that he and Fox researched several cities in order to decide where to site the brewery. The size of the space at the mill drew them in initially, but Hickory’s geographic location also played a role. Hickory will give Skull Coast close access to Interstate 40 and will allow easy service to accounts in Charlotte, Raleigh and Asheville.
After the brewery equipment arrives, Fox said it will take two or three weeks to start brewing beer. “Once stuff starts coming out of the tanks, trust me when I say this, the doors will be open and we’re going to be welcoming people in,” Fox said.
Youve got a large population, people coming in from all over, and a lot of people like craft beer, said Geoff Lamb, owner of Big Boss Brewing Company in Raleigh, one of the Triangles best-established breweries.
Aviator takes off
Aviator owner Mark Doble has new plans for his downtown Fuquay-Varina smokehouse: He just bought the restaurant property for $640,000 so he can install a bigger smoker and renovate the decor.
Its the building part thats fun the growing and the building, Doble said. Plus, he said, he doesnt have to finance his company on credit cards anymore.
Simultaneously, a major expansion will put 12,000 square feet onto the main warehouse-style facility, more than doubling the space available for vats, tanks and coolers. Construction on the $500,000 project should start by March, Doble said.
The project, combined with new gear at the brewery, will allow the company to brew 40,000 barrels of beer a year, compared with the current 12,000 barrels, he said.
Thats the theoretical limit, Doble said. We still have to go out and sell that beer.
Thats why the company is planning to push its product beyond the bars and stores of North Carolina and South Carolina. New and near-future markets include Washington, D.C., southern Virginia, Miami and more of South Carolina.
Locally, Doble is also sketching plans for a pizza-beer joint and a bottle store, which would sell Aviator and other craft beers.
Hes not sure where hed place the new eatery, but he knows one thing: Hes not hot on Holly Springs, the suburb next door to Aviators home base.
A lot of the space is just strip mall, and Im just not a huge fan of being in a strip mall, Doble said. It just doesnt have a whole bunch of appeal.
The Aviator SmokeHouse and the taproom anchor Fuquay-Varinas downtown, where theyre touted as local success stories. The restaurant has hit its marks since opening in March 2011, Doble said.
Surprisingly, a lot of those customers are unaware that we brew our own beer, Doble added. He theorizes that he just chose the right food for the right market.
It may also be that hes offering food and drink in a fast-growing area hungry for local culture.
Either way, Aviators not ready to say when.
Were not even close, Doble said. Ideally, I would like to build a new brewery something around 100,000 square feet, with a bar/restaurant attached to the brewery, a big space. Itd be cool to have a small runway behind it, with a hangar, and some barley and hops fields.
Carolina Brewing Co. is pushing into new markets too. The companys beer is now available in 30 North Carolina counties a three-fold expansion in 2012 alone.
The Holly Springs companys four partners are planning an expansion to markets across the state. But they put one caveat on their plans: Theyre going to do it slowly, because they see overexpansion as a trap for brewers
If you have too much territory and too much demand, then as soon as you start slipping, people start dropping you, said Mark Heath, a partner in the brewery.
The 17-year-old brewery has intentionally limited its growth for the past decade.
The sales have essentially been stagnant, Heath said. But a partial change in ownership has brought the new direction.
Currently, the company can do just short of 4,000 barrels per year, but it plans within five years to reach 10,000 barrels.
In the short term, the company will install new equipment, allowing it to brew more kinds of beer simultaneously.
Plans for smaller breweries are also rolling ahead in Fuquay-Varina and Holly Springs.
The downtown Holly Springs venture is called Burbs Brewing, and its owners are currently renovating the former Fidelity Bank building at 100 N. Main St.
Mitch and Laurie Woodward bought the building from Fidelity for $225,000 in November, according to property records.
We started demolishing the inside of the building, Mitch Woodward said. Were trying to see how we can upfit the building and not spend the whole bank.
He and his wife, who are Cary residents, hope to brew just 150 barrels per year.
Other small brewers are looking to the area too: Hosanna Brewing plans to open a brewpub at 2916 N. Main St. in Fuquay-Varina, about three miles north of downtown, according to the companys website.
Maybe we can make that southwest corner a beer destination for Wake County, Woodward said.
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