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Meet the Brewer: Luke Holgate of Hi-Wire Brewing

Luke Holgate Hi-Wire Brewing

Luke loads our malted wheat into the grist mill for the Uprisin' Hefeweizen brew day.

To celebrate this week’s bottle release of the latest seasonal from Asheville’s own Hi-Wire Brewing, we’ve got a quick Q&A with Hi-Wire’s head brewer Luke Holgate. Uprisin’ Hefeweizen was brewed a couple weeks ago using our Appalachian Wheat Malt and it’s a damn good beer. Kick back with an Uprisin’ and enjoy!

When did you start brewing? What was the first beer you ever brewed, and how did it turn out?

After receiving my BS in Biotech from RIT in 2007 I moved home and took a bar tending job at a local microbrewery. After really just hanging out and bugging the brewer who has since moved on to become the Head brewery engineer for a 100,000+ bbl/year brewery, I began to discover the parallels between my education and the science of brewing. I brewed my first home-brew in a brewery and have never truly home-brewed outside of a brewery atmosphere. My first brew was an all-grain (also never made an extract brew) grapefruit pale ale that was essentially a Sierra Pale clone with grapefruit rind in the boil and juice post ferment. It may just be because it was my first brew but I thought it turned out quite well.

Tell us about your approach to brewing a hefeweizen. What should we expect from Uprisin’?

Hefe’s are a funny style to me because I don’t personally drink them all that often. Although I certainly appreciate a good representation of the style it’s not typically on the top of my beers to order. That being said, I do appreciate the fact that a whole lot of people love them and so when I set out to write this recipe I was trying to make it for a hefe lover and not necessarily to my own palate. Finding the balance between the estery and phenolic flavors and aromas is to me the most important part of producing a good hefe. I have had examples that are completely banana laffy taffy, as well as ones that are thin and have no depth of character. My goal was to make a simple recipe that let the complexity of the yeast come through with a tightly controlled ferment so as not to over do the ester profile.

Tell us about your team of brewers at Hi-Wire.

Our brew team here at Hi-Wire is a great group of hard working individuals. We all have the same approach which is that we are doing this job because we want to learn more and more everyday. We have differing approaches to things like recipe formulation which is enormously important in us coming out with new and exciting brews. I am very analytically minded and need a number or a graph to correlate everything that is happening in my brewhouse whereas Brandon and Nick (two of the other brewers here) have a much more artistic approach to things like recipe formulation which keeps them from being buried in the data that I sometimes find myself blinded by.

What excites you the most about your recent expansion?

Our recent expansion has given us the ability to produce more of our flagship brands but possibly most exciting is the ability to fit more fun and experimental brews into our yearly repertoire. This means more Ringmaster’s Reserve brews as well as new and exciting seasonals.

If you had to drink one beer for the rest of your life, what would it be?

If I had to drink one beer for the rest of my life I think I’d keep it simple. Pabst Blue Ribbon for all eternity.

 

Craig & Brent Riverbend Malt

Uprisin' Hefeweizen - maltster approved!

Meet the Brewer: Todd Boera of Fonta Flora

We’re starting a new series on the Kiln Blog: Meet the Brewer. The Meet the Brewer posts will introduce you to some of the special people that make what we do possible. They’re the ones crafting delicious brews out of our malt.

Todd Boera, foraging brewer extraordinaire

Todd Boera, foraging brewer extraordinaire

Though Fonta Flora Brewery in Morganton just opened last fall, they’ve quickly made a name for themselves with their unique, locally-focused craft beer. Head brewer Todd Boera has made a wide range of beers that you just can’t find anywhere else: a dandelion brett saison, a local carrot IPA, a Belgian blonde with local kiwi. In anticipation of this weekend’s State of Origin beer festival (where Fonta Flora will debut their NC grain/NC honey honeysuckle blonde), we asked Todd a few questions to get a better sense of what he’s all about.

How does using Riverbend malt fit into your brewing philosophy?

The main brewing philosophy at Fonta Flora Brewery is to create a menagerie of complex, creative and rustic libations while utilizing local flora. Riverbend provides us with malted grain, which is obviously a huge component to creating the beer itself. The unique grain that Riverbend manipulates through malting is perfectly suited for the vast range of Belgian beers being created at Fonta Flora Brewery.

What’s your favorite beer to brew?

Fonta Flora Brewery focuses on Belgian/Appalachian Style Saisons. I use the term “Appalachian” to help the drinker realize that they are not typical Saisons. The style originated on farms across Belgium and was brewed with a variety of grains available at the time, which often became a multigrain beer. By utilizing their local grown and malted grains, Riverbend is instrumental in the quest for Fonta Flora Brewery to create a style of beer that is truly unique to the Appalachian Mountains.

You recently mentioned you love to brew with rye. Why is that?

I find Riverbend’s Carolina Rye™ to be the most complex and interesting grain I have ever worked with. The taste profile is incredibly earthy, slick, and slightly spicy. While most brewers stick to the traditional wheat addition in their Saisons, I prefer heavy additions of rye. Although a bit more fickle to work with, the taste profile fits with what I am looking for in my Saisons.

Tell us a little about the State of Origin festival coming up this Saturday. What beers are you looking forward to the most?

To our knowledge, this is the first craft beer festival in the state of North Carolina focused on local ingredients. We asked every invited brewer to craft at least one beer with some/all North Carolina grown ingredients. There are a variety of brewers out there who already do this and some who are crafting something special for the festival. We are releasing a highly anticipated Riverbend grain Belgian blond aged on local honeysuckle flowers and also have one last keg of our dandelion saison. The Wicked Weed/Fonta Flora collaboration will also be released at the festival. “Hipster Nuveau” is a Riverbend grain saison aged on local rhubarb. I am personally looking forward to trying all of the North Carolina ingredient beers from all of the awesome brewers in attendance!

Don’t miss the State of Origin festival this Saturday! VIP doors at 1:30pm, GA doors at 3pm, close at 7:30pm. Tickets available here.