Here’s an excerpt:
Brent Manning and Brian Simpson want to take drinking local to a whole other level with their new malt house in West Asheville.
Think about it. You may support local breweries by quaffing their beers, but some ingredients — i.e., the malts — typically are grown and processed 3,000 miles away, then shipped here.
Manning and Simpson are striving to change that with the Riverbend Malt House.
The business partners met in Wilmington where they both worked as environmental consultants. Almost two years ago, they set out to ascertain why none of the barley grown in North Carolina is used to make North Carolina beer. Until now, most of that grain has gone to feed livestock.
Now farmers Buddy and Chris Hoffner of Salisbury, N.C., are growing barley and one type of wheat for Riverbend. Manning and Simpson received their first 40 tons of Hoffner barley last week, and after months of permit wrangling, they’re now malting grain in West Asheville.
Let’s take it back a step for the non-brewers. Malt is one of the primary ingredients in beer. It’s basically a grain, typically barley, wheat or rye, that’s been germinated then dried in a kiln (it isn’t the same as hops — that’s a different plant entirely). The process of malting develops the enzymes necessary to turn the grain’s starches into sugars. Malted grains are used to make beer, whiskey, malt vinegar and the malted milk balls that most of us only eat in movie theaters.
Also, I’m still recovering from last week’s 15th Brewgrass Festival. Some of my favorite beers there? Pisgah Brewing Vortex II Russian Imperial Stout, Coast Brewing Blackbeerd Bourbon-barrel aged stout, SweetWater Happy Ending Imperial Stout, Southern Tier Harvest Ale (ESB), Outer Banks Lemongrass Wheat, and Green Man Coconut Coffee Porter. Though I tasted lots more amazing beers from all over, those are ones that really stood out from the crowd. What a beautiful, beery day!
More Brewgrass photos soon. Cheers, y’all!