Like many snowbound Yankees, Shipyard Brewing turned snowbird when the Maine-based company opened a brewery and pub inside Orlando International Airport in 1997. That airport brewery, unofficially the first airport brewery, was manned by head brewer Ron Raike, an Orlando native who began homebrewing while working on his Masters in Engineering at the University of Central Florida.
Adding to his resume, he’s a credentialed BJCP beer judge, a certified Cicerone and two-time Southeast Homebrewer of the Year. When conditions beyond his control forced the closure of Shipyard/Orlando many years ago, Raike switched from brewing to marketing, keeping the brand alive in central Florida.
Fate just dealt Raike a new hand. A Winter Park joint venture between Shipyard owner Fred Forsley and chef Tony Adams of Big Wheel Provisions, a catering and charcuterie company, includes a small 28-gallon brewery, not much bigger than most homebrewing set-ups. This past Jan. 28, Raike and Shipyard Emporium welcomed local visitors, and 30 guests from Maine including owner Forsley, to a grand opening celebration.
Raike’s brew kettle will produce seasonal and unique beers based on his own creativity and the availability of local ingredients. Similarly, the Emporium restaurant, headed by Southeastern Culinary Academy grad Joslyn Tusa, who also has a degree in Wine, Spirits and Beverage Management, will highlight fresh, regionally grown produce. Her menu, and that of the adjacent market, includes a revolving selection of deli items, fresh baked bread and pastries, eggs, cheeses, specialty foods and entrées for take-out or eat-in.
Westbrook Brewing opened for business on Dec. 20, 2010 in Mt. Pleasant, SC. Founded by homebrewer Edward Westbrook, the Charleston-suburb craft brewery started big with a 30 bbl brewhouse. Head brewer Smith Matthews, who began his career on the bottling line for SweetWater in 2007, already has a best seller in White Thai. Based on one of Westbrook’s homebrew recipes, this refreshing beer, a twist on the classic Belgian witbier style, was inspired by the flavors of Southeast Asian cuisine. Instead of the traditional coriander and orange, White Thai employs fresh lemongrass, ginger root, and a dash of Sorachi Ace hops resulting in notes of lemon candy, citrus fruit, and slight spiciness.
Belgian Pale Ale, a similarly unique brew, merges German and Belgian malts with English hops and Belgian yeast. Nutty, toasty malt flavors accent a subtle hop note and a pleasant yeast character. Matthews hopes to have a Belgian Tripel and a Saison out for Springtime visitors. Westbrook describes his team as “pretty young guys” with ambitious, adventuresome ideas that include barrel aging, wild yeast and more. Westbrook is working on 750 ml conditioned bottle series and perhaps a canning line for the future. For now, beer is available statewide in draft form.
Brewmaster Jamie Bartholomaus had big plans for Foothills Brewing. His 7-year-old Winston-Salem, NC brewpub has been brewing at a torrent pace, 24/7, for months with no relief in sight without major investment. A separate distributing brewery made perfect sense. With a 48,000 sq ft building already secured, Bartholomaus began negotiating to acquire the brewing equipment from Carolina Beer & Beverage (CCB).
The Mooresville, NC craft brewery, caught up in the energy drink craze, had contracted out all of its beer production, allowing the brewhouse to gather dust. As it worked out, Bartholomaus wound up with more than he bargained for. Not only did Foothills acquire a complete 50 bbl brewhouse, sans bottling line, but the award-winning brewer also came home with 12 new beers. The Carolina and Cottonwood brands are now the property of Foothills.
Installation of the CCB brewery is underway and should be brewing no later than June. The Foothills recipes come first. Though it will take at least a year to bring all of the new beers in-house, Bartholomaus sees little need to change the line-up. Cottonwood beers are mostly complimentary to those of Foothills, including the light, refreshing Carolina Blonde, the CCB flagship. Cottonwood Endo is a true American IPA, that does not conflict with Foothill’s popular Hoppyum, an English IPA by design, though boasting American hops flavors.
Bartholomaus and his head brewer TL Adkisson remember the Cottonwood beers from their primetime days in Boone, NC, where they were originally developed at the long defunct Cottonwood Brewery. They look forward to the return of their glory days. CCB brewer Nikki Koontz will assist with the transition in a consultant role. The new and enlarged Foothills should hit 12,000 barrels this year. Plant capacity, once everything is in place, is 20,000 barrels.
Beer School at Appalachian State University just surpassed an important hurdle in its administrative endeavor to become a full fledged scholastic program. School Trustees have given professor Brett Taubman permission to apply for a production license for Ivory Tower Brewing, the Boone, NC college’s demonstration brewhouse. The Fermentation Science Concentration within the Chemistry Dept. and the standalone Fermentation Science Program in the College of Arts and Sciences were also approved at the university level. Besides licensing, all that’s needed is approval from the General Administration of the UNC system.
Eric Roth brewed 11 times last week and still confesses that he “really, really loves brewing.” Like most professional brewers, Eric and his older brother Ryan entered the beer world as homebrewers. It took only eight months of five gallon batches to ferment big ideas for what would eventually become Roth Brewing. When a big time loan fell through, the siblings, along with friend Michael Natale, scrapped their business plan and decided to start small. Since opening in a Raleigh, NC industrial park in June 2010, Roth Brewing has produced over 150 batches of Raleigh Red, Dark Construct (a wheat-stout) and Foehammer. The latter, a year-round barleywine, literally takes all day, and “sometimes all night,” to brew. Though the Roths are in no hurry to install a larger brew kettle, they have grown capacity by adding a 15 bbl fermenter. It only takes seven batches to fill.
The rite of passage for most small craft breweries usually has to do with packaging. The fastest, cheapest way of entry is a keg-only operation, which ignore, by design, half of the marketplace. The addition of 12 or 22 ounce packaging opens more doors, though the liquor, package, or grocery store market presents its own set of challenges.
Without the worry of return, bottles and cans travel farther than reusable kegs. Label approval seems to be a pretty seamless process in most states. So who’s doing what? Birmingham, AL’s Good People Brewing fired up its new canning line in February. Six-packs of IPA and Brown Ale were the first on local supermarket shelves. New South, a Myrtle Beach, SC craft brewery began canning about a year ago. Chapel Hill, NC brewpub Top of the Hill, a southern pioneer in aluminum packaging, started canning almost five years ago. Just eight miles away in Durham, Triangle Brewing added a canning line last year. Gainesville, FL’s Swamp Head Brewing has eyes on a bottling line.
Former Rock Bottom/Charlotte head brewer David Gonzalez, who parted ways with the Chattanooga, TN-based company last year, has landed a new gig just five minutes from his home. In a flashback to the past, he signed on with local homebrew supply store Alternative Beverage in February as operations manager. In his first week on the job, Gonzalez taught a monthly homebrewing class, starting, like most of us, with an extract brew, something he hadn’t done in nearly 20 years.
Presented in late January, the 7th Atlanta Cask Tasting had, as usual, plenty of surprises. Host brewery 5 Seasons Prado took the People’s Choice Award with Aaah... BACON! Scotch Ale, an 8% malty beer aged with hickory chips and bacon smoked over staves from a Heaven Hill Bourbon barrel.
First Place Classic Style went to Stone Ruination, dry-hopped with whole leaf, while nearby SweetWater took First Place Specialty Style with A Barrel Full of Drunkies. The 11% blended cask was SweetWater’s rendition of a Quad cellared in an American bourbon barrel for 10 months and blended with another Quad cellared in a French Bordeaux barrel with brettanomyces and lactobacillus for ten months. This fusion was then topped off with an adaptation of a Tripel, cellared for 28 months with fresh blackberries in a French Bordeaux barrel. Wow!