Riverbend 10: A Heritage Beer Story

When Riverbend Malt House first got started, many of our small batches were used in seasonal and one-off brewing projects. Craft brewers and distillers were still treading lightly when it came to using craft malt. But Todd Steven Boera of Fonta Flora Brewery was different; he was all in. 


Todd reached out to us before he started Fonta Flora in Morganton with the long-term goal of sourcing all of the malt from local sources. As our relationship grew, an exciting opportunity came into focus. Riverbend was working with Echoview Estate in Weaverville, North Carolina (just north of Asheville) to grow some ultra-local barley for malting. Echoview was also growing several varieties of hops on their farm, which led to an estate beer project in 2013.

The resulting expression became what we called an Appalachian-style Tripel to which Fonta Flora also added local honey and lemon balm additions. We named it Echoview Estate Ale, and we’re proud to say it went down as the first ​​Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project-certified craft beer

“This was the first beer of its kind. Certainly one of my proudest moments, to be able to tie everything together to make a beer with all the ingredients that came from one place,” says Todd. “I don’t think it gets better than that as a producer.”

Riverbend’s collaborations with Fonta Flora continued, and yielded incredible terroir stories behind beers like Great American Beer Festival – Field Beer Category gold medal winner Beets, Rhymes, and Life, and our #Riverbend10 celebration beer Biere de Riverbend

Flash forward seven years from the crafting of Echoview Estate Ale, and Brent finds a bottle stashed away in the cellar. Out of curiosity about the development of its flavor, and to celebrate 10 years in business, we cracked this bottle in the Fonta Flora barrel cellar on the Whippoorwill Farm last fall. “Was a Tripel; turned into a Belgian Golden Strong,” Todd jokes. “And it only took seven years,” Brent adds. 

“We wouldn’t have grown into the brewery that we are without that partnership,” Todd says more seriously. “Something that has always separated us from the crowd is our use of local malt, from day one. Fonta Flora was founded on this commitment, and with Riverbend Malt House being the only player in the game for a long time I felt even more intrinsically linked because my ability to create beers that I’m able to talk about as ‘local’ is completely reliant upon their success.” 

Todd’s not quite done. “Supporting your local brewery is all fine and good,” he says. “But also support your local brewery that supports other local entities, and agriculture.”

Get a peek at this cellar tasting session in our #Riverbend10 short film, and don’t miss Fonta Flora’s upcoming 7th annual State of Origin festival. Many of the beers at this festival in Morganton on August 6 will feature Riverbend malt, and craft malt from across the region. Get your tickets today!