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Made in the South Awards

Our good friends at French Broad Chocolates received some great news from Garden and Gun Magazine a few weeks back. Their panel of judges selected the Malted Milk Chocolate Bar as a runner-up in the Annual Made in the South Awards!

Beautifully packaged local chocolate! (courtesy Garden and Gun)

As you might have guessed, our malt is part of this lovely creation. Specifically, our unique Heritage Malt. Once we’ve cleaned the malt, we send it to our local miller, Carolina Ground where it is milled into flour suitable for mixing into the chocolate bar recipe. Three local businesses, southern farmers, rich flavor…what’s not to love?

Read more about this collaborative project here.

Happy Holidays!

 

Drinking is an Agricultural Act @ BevCon 2016

I must confess, I’ve reworked the classic quote from Wendell Berry more than a few times in my quest to connect our clients to agricultural side of malt. So I had to laugh when I got the invite to speak on a panel with the same title at the inaugural BevCon in Charleston.

bevcon-2016

I’m honored to share the stage with my good friend Sean Wilson from Fullsteam Brewing, Diane Flynt from Foggy Ridge Cider, Ann Marshall from High Wire Distilling, and Sara Clow from Grow Food Carolina. In short, an all-star cast!

We’ll be discussing the distinctive ingredients and the unique flavors that they bring to a wide variety of regionally-focused ales and spirits. I’ll be sharing a summary of this year’s harvest in an attempt to capture the “ups and downs” of growing grains for a niche market.

The conference will also feature a laundry list of the South’s premier brewers, distillers, bartenders, and restaurateurs throughout the three day event. You should definitely make plans to attend!

 

 

 

 

Farmhouse FEAST @ All Souls Pizza – May 23rd

AllSoulsPizza

We are excited to announce a charity beer dinner with our good friends at All Souls Pizza on Monday, May 23rd!

The Dinner:

The event will feature locally-raised pork from Austin Farms in Old Fort along with several local beers. We are planning to dine on the outdoor patio to enjoy the spring weather.

Monday, May 23rd 6-9PM

Vegetarian option available

$50/pp + applicable service charges

The Menu:

Antipasta – cured meats, pickled vegetables, farm and sparrow bread and ferments

Crispy confit pork belly with second spring greens and scuppernong vinaigrette

Corned ham with asparagus and parsley sauce

Bloody Butcher corn tart with whipped creme fraiche and strawberries

 

The Charity:

FEAST logo-high res

A large portion of the ticket proceeds will go to support the outstanding work of FEAST Asheville. FEAST’s mission is to empower families to grow, prepare, enjoy healthy food as part of an active lifestyle.

The Breweries:

Here is what we have confirmed so far…more to come!

Twin Leaf Brewing

Newgrass Brewing

Hi-Wire Brewing

The Tickets:

http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/2547436

The Back Story:

We have been working Austin Farms, in Old Fort to recycle our waste material from the malting process. The waste is a mix of rootlets and thin kernels that are removed from the malted barley. This “waste” is rich in protein and other nutrients, making it an ideal food for livestock. This partnership allows Riverbend to recycle over 80% of the total waste from our operation every year!

Legislative Meeting at New Belgium

 

Andrew Lemley from New Belgium addressing the crowd.

Andrew Lemley from New Belgium addressing the crowd.

We got an opportunity to meet up with several legislators, board members from the NC Brewers Guild, and our local brewing community this week for a “State of the State” meeting. New Belgium hosted the event and served up Citradelic, Blue Paddle, and some other favorites for the crowd. Green Opportunity’s Kitchen Ready Program prepared some great food as well!

Needless to say, I love the fact that this constitutes a work day!

Margo Knight Metzger, executive director of the NC Brewer’s Guild, provided the crowd with a summary of NC’s craft beer industry.

– 160 breweries ( up from 45 in 2010!)

– 675,000 barrels of total production

– 2nd largest increase in barrel production in the U.S.

– 10,000 jobs

– 1.2 Billion in total economic impact

This update was followed by a roundtable discussion which allowed the legislators and brewers to review current regulations and their impact on the industry. Topics such as excise tax, distribution caps, and ALE enforcement were cited as the major hurdles to grow North Carolina’s beer economy.

I took this opportunity to share what other states are doing to engage and support the agricultural side of brewing. For example, New York state has a wildly successful farm brewery law that provides incentives for using locally sourced grains. Virginia is also working reviewing and incentive program for farmers who grow grains and hops for the brewing industry. These laws help support the development of a food system for craft beer and benefit the farming communities throughout the state. We need something like this to support continued growth in North Carolina.

I plan to join the NC Brewer’s Guild on June 1st for their annual lobbying day in Raleigh. Check back for further updates!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

B Corps Meeting with Patagonia

Aspiring B Corps from Asheville area meeting with Vincent Stanley (Courtesy Susanne Hackett)

Aspiring B Corps from Asheville area meeting with Vincent Stanley (Courtesy Susanne Hackett)

 

“Malt with a Mission”

Call it a slogan, tagline, whatever you want. Regardless, it doesn’t always get the attention it deserves. Those four words capture our desire to connect local farmers to the craft beer industry, while taking care of our employees and our planet. Simply put, these goals have been a part of our DNA since day one.

One of the companies we’ve used as a model for our development is Patagonia, which was founded in 1973 by Yvon Chouinard. Since their inception, they’ve done things differently (and better) than most companies on the planet. On-site childcare, organic food in the cafeteria, support of organic farming, non-profit donations, the list goes on.

Last week we had the exciting opportunity to take part in a roundtable with Patagonia’s Director of Philosophy and co-author The Responsible Company, Vincent Stanley. The event was aimed at the growing number of aspiring B Corps in Asheville. B Corps operate as beneficial companies that hold themselves to high standards of ethical, environmental, and social conduct in an effort to change the status quo of capitalism in our society.

Each participant submitted questions to drive the conversation. Subjects ranged from worker compensation to political activism to creating and maintaining company culture. Vincent told the group about some of the most challenging days at the company, which led them to layoff over 100 employees due to cash flow issues in the 1980s. He also shared some of the things he took pride in, such as their 20 Million and Change Program.

His message to the audience was clear….stay true to your beliefs right from the start. For example, supporting 1% for the Planet. This level of support is relatively easy to attain for a small company, but becomes more challenging as revenues rise and more people are involved in the financial management of the company.

I left feeling like Riverbend is on the right path. We’re working hard to create a company that supports our community, maintains a work/life balance, and makes great products at the same time.

 

So….will Riverbend become a B Corp?

Hopefully! Achieving this goal requires an extensive assessment of every facet of the business. This includes sourcing practices, employee compensation, renewable energy utilization, etc. Early assessment scores have pushed us to expand our recycling program, improvement record-keeping, and develop an employee handbook.

We’ll keep you posted on our progress!

Brew Day with Sierra Nevada

Brewing with Sierra Nevada in Mills River

Sierra Nevada in Mills River...it's huge!

You may have noticed last week that a few of the Riverbend maltsters showed up in an article on NPR about Asheville’s booming craft beer industry. Just how did we end up in the right place at the right time? Well, we were very lucky to spend the day hanging out with one of our newest neighbors: Sierra Nevada.

Brew Day with Sierra Nevada

We were all pretty excited when Sierra Nevada invited us to come over to their new brewery in Mills River to help brew the Asheville Brewers Alliance collaboration beer. “Tater’s Ridge” is a Scottish-style ale brewed with 1000 lbs. of North Carolina sweet potatoes and 20,000 lbs. of our Riverbend pale malt. The beer will be one of twelve in the Beer Camp Across America variety pack, along with 11 other collaboration beers from some of America’s favorite craft brewers, including Russian River, Cigar City, Oskar Blues, Victory, New Glarus, and Bells, to name a few. Sierra’s head brewer Scott Jennings very graciously showed us around and allowed us to participate in the brew day action.

Though the Sierra Nevada brewery is still under construction, the facility is nothing short of jaw dropping. They’ve been brewing there since the summer, even while hoards of construction workers have been running around painting, laying tile, installing equipment, connecting electrical, rigging up plumbing, and probably a million other things behind the scenes. We got to take a tour of the brewery even though it was still a work in progress.

Our malt getting loaded into the mill!

That's our grain!

Massive grain silos at Sierra Nevada

The Sierra Nevada brewhouse, awaiting some finishing touches.

Brewing on such a large scale was pretty incredible. Sierra Nevada’s 200 bbl. brewhouse is a long ways from a five-gallon homebrew setup! After the grain passed through the hydrating grain mill, it was all automatically pumped into the mash tun, where we got the chance to throw in some of the roasted sweet potatoes.

In go the spuds

After the mash, everything was pumped over to the lauter tun, when the grains get separated from the wort.

200 barrels of mash gets pumped into the lauter tun.

The wort then goes into a wort collector (where wort can be heated using heat recaptured from the previous batch’s boil), then it’s moved to a boil kettle — all without breaking a sweat! This is where we got to throw in some hops. Buckets and buckets of hops! There were about six of these huge trash cans packed full of hops that went into the brew.

Hops await the first batch of Tater's Ridge

From here the beer gets separated from the hops, cooled down, and pumped into a massive fermentation tank (one of those cone shaped object in the ceiling), where the Sierra Nevada team will monitor the beer as it ferments and conditions.

Just one small corner of the cellar at Sierra Nevada

We can’t wait to see how this beer turns out! Look for it mid-July in the Beer Camp Across America 12-pack and don’t miss the Beer Camp Across America Beer Festival!

Thanks so much to Scott and the Sierra Nevada team for having us over on brew day!

 

CELEBRATE NC BEER MONTH AT THE MONK!

Looking for a way to sample homegrown ales and lagers  from across North Carolina?

 

Join us at the Thirsty Monk in downtown Asheville this Friday (April 26th) where we’ll be co-hosting our first tap takeover.  This event offers an incredible opportunity to sample a variety of beer styles made with Riverbend’s products.  Some of these will even be new to us!  A little backstory is provided below to wet your appetite.

 

1) Weeping Radish – Maibock
A classic style from NC’s oldest microbrewery.  Nick and his crew brewed this one back in January and it has had plenty of time to lager and is in top form for NC Beer Month.  The grain bill for this traditional fest beer includes our Pilsner, Pale, and Heritage malts.

 

2) Weeping Radish – Doppelbock (2012)
The 2011 release of this beer included malt from our first batch ever produced!  The 2012 version marks the second year of this locally focused release and clocks in around 8% ABV.   Hops are provided by Echoview Farm in Weaverville and a majority of the grain is sourced from Riverbend.  Just like the Maibock, this one has been conditioning for several months and has developed a rich malt character.

 

3) Top of the Hill – Plott Hound Pale Ale
This well-balanced brew features a blend of New Zealand hop varieties and an array of Riverbend products (Pale, Heritage, Appalachian Wheat, and Carolina Rye) which create a complex, sessionable beer with notes of peach and pineapple.  Everyone in Chapel Hill is really diggin’ this release and the second batch is already in the fermenter!

 

4) Fullsteam – El Toro Cream Ale
A classic, easy drinking cream ale from one of our favorite breweries, this one was our first “flagship” release back in early 2012.  The guys at Fullsteam craft this one with 90% Pale Malt and 10% corn grits for a truly local flavor.   Be sure to put this summer sipper and your list this Friday.

 

5) Steel String – Rubber Room Session Ale
These guys are opening in Carrboro in early May with an interesting lineup of IPAs and Belgian inspired offerings.  I got to taste a few things out of the fermenter when I visited and am looking forward to this one!  Motueka hops and our Carolina Rye should make for an excellent session beer.

 

6) Aviator – High Voltage Pale Ale
This one comes out swinging with 7.2% ABV and a generous dose of Columbus and Cascade hops.  This beer marks our first statewide release and may be available in 22 oz. bottles later this summer.  Look for Aviator’s complete line of products around Asheville by early May!

 

7) Trophy Brewing/Haw River Farmhouse Ales (collaboration) – Saxiest Man Alive Saison
For those in the know, Busy Bee is the spot for craft beer and great food in downtown Raleigh…why do I tell you this? Because the same gentlemen (Les Stewart) behind Busy Bee is now brewing some delicious treats just down the street at Trophy Brewing.  Les teamed up with Ben from Haw River to create this little jewel made from 100% NC ingredients (including the yeast!).  Ben has been working on some pretty interesting yeast propagation projects in his hometown of Saxapahaw (near Chapel Hill).  You’ll get to taste the results of his efforts in this hoppy Saison that uses pine needles in the boil for an added kick.

 

8) Wicked Weed – Smoked Saison
When Walt told us he was planning to have our malt smoked by the guys at 12 Bones Smokehouse here in Asheville, we knew it was going to be a special beer.  This one was released to rave reviews just a few weeks ago at their tap room.  This one is rich and complex with just the right amount of smoke in the finish.

 

Looking forward to seeing everyone out at the Monk…Cheers!

 

NEW YEARS EVE @ ARCADE ASHEVILLE

So this is pretty exciting news!  We have been working the folks over at Arcade Asheville on a special beer release to celebrate their 1st anniversary on New Year’s Eve.  That evening we will be releasing the first kegs of “8-bit Ale” to the public starting at 5PM.

The “8-bit” name was chosen in honor of the early Nintendo game console that we all grew up playing…..you know the one I’m talking about.

The beer recipe features our Heritage Malt, which comprises over 70% of the total malt bill.  The remaining portion is made up of specialty malts such as Munich, Crystal, and Red Wheat. Hop character leans heavily on the floral and citrus notes provided by late additions of the Centennial and Cascade varieties. Dry hopping with several pounds of the wildly popular Citra variety also lends a distinct tropical fruit aroma to this sessionable delight.

In short, the perfect beer to sip on the patio or the dance floor!

 

 

 

BIG NEWS FROM BIG LOVE!!!

Wow!! what a warm welcome from the Asheville beer scene. We entered our “Appalachian Pale Ale” in this year’s Just Brew It! Homebrew Event, sponsored by Just Economics. It garnered rave reviews from the judges and attendees. This beer was produced using 85% locally grown and malted barley and hops, provided by Echoview Farms. In keeping with the warmer weather, our APA was designed as an “All Day IPA” with a floral, slightly citrusy hop aroma and flavor without sacrificing mouthfeel or body.

Preaching the gospel of local beer (Image Courtesy of Asheville Citizen-Times Photo Gallery)

In preparing for this event, we had humble expectations based on the strong homebrewing culture in Western North Carolina. Given the strong field of entries, we were honored to be one of only 5 entries to be brewed commercially!! We were selected by Green Man Brewing Company for a full production run that we hope will happen in early Fall 2011. We also received an “Honorable Mention” from Highland Brewing Company and look forward to working with them on a brew in their new pilot-scale system.

Overall, this event was a strong vote of confidence for Riverbend Malt House and our quest to make a truly local beer. Stay tuned for more information on the Green Man release!