beer education

NC Beer Month News and Events for Easter Weekend

Heading into the third weekend of NC Beer Month, we are carried by the momentum of last week’s World Beer Cup in Denver.  North Carolina breweries were awarded 8 medals, including a Gold to Asheville Brewing for Ninja Porter and a bronze to Wicked Weed for their Tyrant Double Red IPA.  NoDa Brewing of Charlotte beat out 222 other IPAs to take Gold for their Hop Drop ‘n Roll in the most competitive contest of the event. 

Other North Carolina winners include:

White Street Brewing -- Gold – Kölsch (Köln or Kölsch style Ale)

Mother Earth Brewing – Bronze – Endless River (Köln or Kölsch style Ale)

Outerbanks Brewing Station – Gold – Meyerbock (Heller Bock/ Maibock)

Olde Hickory Brewing – Silver – Irish Walker (Strong Ale or Old Ale)

This competition had over 1400 breweries from 58 countries competing in 94 different categories.  The success of North Carolina’s small breweries helps explain why there is so much local pride surrounding beer.  These brewers deserve it.

And what better way to show your support of NC brewers than by going out and buying some beer!  Two events really stand out this week in the Asheville area, and I hope everyone has the chance to get out to both.

Sharpen the Blade Saison Fest

Friday April 18th:  4pm- 10pm

Burial Beer is hosting the first Saison Fest in Asheville.  Saisons are a style that originated in Southern Belgium and were first brewed by farmers as partial payment to their seasonal workers.  The beers had to be high enough in alcohol to stay fresh from early spring to late summer, but they had to be thirst quenching enough to be desirable after a hard day working the fields.  Every farmer brewed theirs a little bit differently based on what was available, and that freedom of expression is what drives modern day brewers of the style.  Saison Fest will have examples from 15 NC breweries on offer this Friday.  There is no admission charge, just buy the beer by the glass and enjoy.  The best news is that Spring should be back in town by this weekend, so you shouldn’t need your coat.

Highland Brewing 20th Anniversary Plaid Party 

Saturday April 19th:  4pm-9pm (Doors at 2)

Highland Brewing is celebrating 20 years this month, and they are offering a series of limited release beers to commemorate.  Highland is the brewery that started the modern day craft scene in Asheville, and they remain the largest locally owned brewery in Western North Carolina.  Show some support to these pioneers by heading out to the tasting room this Saturday to try beers that you haven’t had and won’t have the opportunity to try again.  “Celtic Ale” the original name and recipe for Gaelic, a 20th Anniversary Scotch Ale, and two “NC only” beers including a lager and a Belgian Ale will be poured along with Highland’s usual line-up and other small batch beers.  Live music, food trucks and to-go bottle sales round out the afternoon.  They are asking that people carpool when possible, as parking is limited. 




Brewer- Farmer Relationships Threatened

News about an FDA proposal to control animal feed is making small brewers and small farmers nervous.  Both would experience increased costs of operation if this proposal goes through.  Fortunately, it is open to public comment until March 31st. 

Brewing uses a lot of barley.  Barley is a cereal grain rich in protein and carbohydrate calories as well as a host of other important nutrients.  Brewers are most interested in the starches and sugars that are extracted through the mashing process.  Once those have been removed from the grain, the rest is considered waste to the brewer.  For as long as there have been brewers living near farmers, these wasted grains have ended up as animal feed.  A new effort from the FDA would severely threaten that relationship.


A new proposed rule would prevent breweries from passing off spent grain to farmers. The rule is meant to “ensure the safety of animal food for animals consuming the food and ensuring the safety of animal food for humans handling the food, particularly pet food…”

The rule essentially would require breweries to dry, analyze and package the grain before sending it to the brewers. All without any of it touching human hands. The process would be too time consuming and too costly for small craft brewers. The grain would have to be dumped. The farmers would be barred from picking it up. The free grain is a big help financially to the farmer, offsetting food costs for the animals.

Obviously there is a need to control the products farmers feed their livestock.  There is real danger to consumers of animal products if the feed used to raise them is unsafe.  Brewers' barley, however, does not fall into this category of dangerous products.  This barley has already been deemed safe enough to use as a principle ingredient in a beverage for human consumption.  The brewing process simply steeps the barley in 150+/- degree water for an hour or so.  If the farmers are utilizing the spent grains from brewers in a timely fashion, there is little risk for bacterial growth or any other spoilage that might affect the quality of the feed.  Any proposal should seek to regulate that part of the equation, if anything.  From a quick google search, I wasn't able to find any information to support a theory that brewers' grains pose any health risk to cattle.  Also, a study released by the National Institutes of Health in 1994 concluded the following:

Twenty lactating Jersey cows were offered diets containing 0, 15, or 30% wet brewers grains or 30% wet brewers grains plus liquid brewers’ yeast during hot, humid weather. The DMI was not different, even though diets with 30% wet brewers grains contained only 35.5% DM and approximately 50 versus 36.8% NDF for the control diet. Yields of milk and FCM did not differ for cows offered the control diet versus wet brewers grains or diets with 15 versus 30% wet brewers grains, but milk yield for diets with 30% wet brewers grains was greater with added liquid brewers’ yeast than without it. Milk fat percentage was not different, but milk protein percentage was lower, for diets with wet brewers grains than for controls and for 30% wet brewers grains than for 15% wet brewers grains. Serum urea N was lower for control cows than for cows receiving the diets with wet brewers grains. Feed cost per cow was lower for wet brewers grains versus the control diet, and income over feed cost was greater for diets with 30 versus 15% wet brewers grains. Large quantities of wet brewers grains can be added to the diet during hot weather without depressing DMI.
— National Insititute of Health

This only helps to reaffirm the argument that farmers strongly benefit from the use of brewer's grains as feed.  Also, many small brewers reap the benefit of free haul off and disposal of this waste product.  If small brewers were forced to pay for this waste to be removed, they would incur extra costs that would have to be passed on to the consumer.  No one benefits from losing this relationship.   

Please don't let small brewers and farmers get caught up in this proposal.  The comment period is open until March 31st.  Follow the link to make your opinion heard.