Monday, March 21, 2011

Our Plan, Our Name, Our Beers!

Been a while since our first blog post. Sorry about that – we've been busy brewing test batches (and test batches, and test batches...)! The good news is that we've pulled together and polished what will eventually become the final concept for the new brewery (which, if you're reading this, you can probably see reflected at least somewhat in the header above). The plan is to open our new brewery, Haw River Farmhouse Ales, in Saxapahaw, North Carolina on Memorial Day 2012.

Haw River Farmhouse Ales will handcraft small batches of Belgian- and French-style ales using locally-sourced ingredients in each of our beers and certified organic ingredients where possible. Our goal is to approach our recipes, our process and our community responsibilities in a similar manner to the small farmhouse breweries located in France and Belgium from centuries past. Because North Carolina is quickly becoming a major player in the U.S. craft beer industry, we decided we didn't simply want to produce yet another American Lager or India Pale Ale; there are many skilled North Carolina brewers producing fine examples of such beers in our own backyard. Instead, we hope to complement the budding Carolina craft beer community by exploring a slightly less tapped style of beer (please forgive my awful pun) here in our great state, all while giving each beer we produce its own voice reflecting the traditions and history of North Carolina and the surrounding region. By brewing using local ingredients and adding our own little creative spin to things, we hope to craft unique beers based on traditional Belgian techniques and styles that you can only find coming from Haw River Farmhouse Ales in North Carolina.

For the past few weeks, we've been working hard fine tuning a few of our favorite recipes in an effort to establish what we hope will be the first three styles of beer available next Memorial Day when we open our doors. Because we're planning on producing small batches, we'll have plenty of other beers available from time to time on a limited basis (more details on these coming soon), but we'd like to be able to offer a few "flagship" beers on a year-round schedule.

The first will be a golden Saison, traditionally made by farmhouse breweries during the Wallonian spring as a light, refreshing beer for the farmhands to drink while working during the sultry days of summer. Haw River Farmhouse Ales' version uses organic pilsner malt, organic Hallertau hops and local North Carolina honey, finishes dry, crisp and fruity, and will weigh in at around 5%ABV for a truly sessionable, thirst-quenching brew.

What we're planning for our second beer is a light, fruity, slightly grassy Belgian Pale Ale, something of a "Belgian beer for everyone". Balanced by a crisp bitterness in the backend that pushes an aroma of Cascade and Sorachi Ace hops, this beer will also measure about 5%ABV.

To round out our lineup, the third beer we're planning to have available is our Belgian Chocolate Stout. We're brewing a pitch-black milk stout using Amarillo hops for bitterness and flaked rye for body, then fermenting it at higher-than-normal temperatures with a Belgian yeast, which lends a slight citrusy character to the aroma, flavor and finish that complements the roasty chocolate notes perfectly.

Like I said, we've got a few more batches in test mode, to be released on a limited basis (and when they're polished up and perfected): a Wild Black Saison (made with local Buckwheat honey and funky yeast), a Belgian IPA (dry hopped with 3 different types of hops, as well as North Carolina wildflowers), a Peach Witbier (using local North Carolina peaches), a special series of Bières de Garde to be released every few months in bottles, another special series of brews that will celebrate North Carolina and its special residents, seasonal rarities that celebrate the harvest cycles and natural lifelines of the ingredients… we've got a few ideas. The key at this point is that we get the three specialties we'd like to have available year-round perfected, and then go from there. Stay tuned for more detailed updates over the new few weeks, including information on becoming involved in participating in private tasting sessions. À votre santé!