Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Our Barn Raiser Fundraising Efforts: A Question & Answer Session

The response to our Barn Raiser fundraising has been humbling so far, as we've had an outpouring of support from both friends and family since we started offering them in January, as well as those who have heard what we have planned with Haw River Farmhouse Ales and are excited about what's in store. We do, however, get questions from folks fairly often asking about why we're selling them, what's included, how they can get one, etc, so we thought it might be helpful to put a little Q&A post together on our blog, to help explain things in a little more detail. If you've heard what we have planned and are interested in helping us get our doors open later his year, but still have questions or comments after reading through things, please don't hesitate to drop us an email and let us know. We love hearing from the folks in our community!

With your help, our Barn Raiser Founders Collections
will help us fund part of our brewery when we open later this year.

What the heck is a Barn Raiser?
We're planning to open our brewery a little later this year and are currently in the external "fundraising" portion of the start-up phase. And while a lot of our friends and peers starting up their own breweries decided that crowd-funding websites (such as Kickstarter or IndieGoGo) would be the best route to take for raising a few dollars, we decided we wanted to take on a more independent approach and offer custom, unique collections of high-end merchandise and one-of-a-kind opportunities for craft beer aficionados and small business supporters here in our community.

Why are you guys selling them?
We wanted to give our supporters the opportunity to get their hands on some unique and limited-edition stuff before we get our doors open, and we thought this might be an interesting alternative to the crowd-funding sites we mentioned above that have gained popularity lately. The revenue raised will help us bridge a gap in our start-up budget, of course, and allows us to keep our fundraising a little closer to the community than simply going to a bank and signing on for a big ol' loan. The money brought in from our Barn Raisers certainly won't fund our entire brewery, but it's a great way for us to set aside a little chunk of what we're doing and share it with our community.

I want to support what you're doing, but those prices look a bit steep for my budget. Anything else I can do to help?
First off, we're touched that this question actually does come up rather often at our events and public pourings—to have our friends tell us they want to give us financial assistance and be involved, but that we've not provided them the opportunity, is humbling, to say the least. And we never meant to exclude some of our closest friends and supporters by creating packages that included levels of merchandise that raise the price point a bit high. So we've heard your concerns and have decided to offer a smaller level we're calling the Barn Raiser Enthusiast, which should be available by the time you're reading this! We can't do it without every single one of you, so we want to make sure you can hop on board with us from the beginning and join the fun!

So what's in each of the "levels", and how are they different?
We started with two levels (the Barn Raiser Founder and Barn Raiser Premium) around the beginning of the year and have just released a third, less-expensive option in May, the Barn Raiser Enthusiast, for those folks who have expressed interest in what we're offering, but have a little more of a modest budget. Take a look below for a run-down of everything we include in each of the collections!

The Barn Raiser Enthusiast
Our Barn Raiser Enthusiast includes your very own Barn Raiser's t-shirt (a different cut and shirt design are available for men or women), an imprinted Belgian-style footed glass, a Barn Raising Founder certificate, a set of exclusive stickers and a single admission ticket to our private Barn Raiser's Founders party to be held before we open to the public. The perfect size for the beer lover in your life, our Barn Raiser Enthusiast is being sold for only $95.

The Barn Raiser Founder
Our Barn Raiser Founder includes everything in the Enthusiast, as well as an extra Belgian-style tulip glass, a set of unique stoneware coasters in a hand-numbered gift box, a wall-mounted bottle opener, a two-year membership to our Barn Raiser Founder's Club (which gets you discounts on merchandise, exclusive growler fills, special access to bottle releases, and much more once we're open), and a hand-numbered raffle ticket for the chance to win a day in the brewhouse (brewing a batch of your very own beer that will be sold in bottles, with 100% of the profits being donated to the 501c3 of your choice). The Barn Raiser Founder is a great choice for that special craft beer lover or drinkin' buddy in your life and sells for only $295.

The Barn Raiser Premium

Finally, our Barn Raiser Premium includes everything in the other two boxes, as well as an extra admission ticket to our private Barn Raiser's party, an extra raffle ticket for two chances to win a day in the brewhouse and a donation to the charity of your choice, a second Barn Raiser t-shirt (so you can have one for "him" and one for "her"), a piece of original art from our very awesome illustrator Nathan Golub, a wood wall-hanging with custom artwork you can display in your home, a lifetime membership to our Barn Raiser Founder's Club, and a single bottle of the very rare, very exclusive beer we'll have on tap at the private Barn Raiser's party, so you can bring home a little something special to age or share with friends! This one's the Cadillac of Barn Raisers for couples or the true craft beer aficionado, and sells for only $495.

What makes a shirt and a couple of coasters so special?
Every piece included in each box has been designed exclusively for inclusion in our Barn Raiser Collections, and will only be available to those who get in from the start and never be sold separately at any other point. We hope this helps add value to the pieces we've chosen to include in each of our Barn Raiser boxes.

Can't I just buy one of those nifty (shirts, glasses, coasters, stickers, et al) separately?
We'd love to, of course, but we think it wouldn't necessarily be fair to the Barn Raiser Founders who have supported us by investing in a full Barn Raiser box. We love the fact that so many friends and fans want to help us out, so we've tried to make it a bit more approachable by creating a smaller Collection for a more nominal price. If that's outside your price range, we'd certainly appreciate you letting your friends know about what we're doing, becoming our fan on Facebook or following us on Twitter, and seeing you come out to one of our future pouring events around the Triangle and Triad regions of NC!

What is the money raised by sales of the Barn Raiser Collections being put toward?
Every dollar raised by our Barn Raisers goes toward our general start-up budget, which includes budgeting for brewhouse equipment, ingredients, oak barrels and fermenters, operating costs, and more. We're also in discussions with a few local farmers to set up contracts with them to grow some of our ingredients, so your contribution will help us achieve some of our sustainability and local sourcing goals as well.

Are you actually "raising a barn"?
That's certainly our plan in the long-term, but our initial location when our doors open this year won't be a barn just yet. We expect to set up shop in a very cool centralized location here in Saxapahaw (details on our location are almost finalized, so sign up for our mailing list and keep an eye out for our announcement very, very soon!), and then organically grow into both our brand and our permanent home over the next few years, to the point where we can build our own barn/brewery/taproom on the edge of town when it's financially and feasibly sound.

Sounds fun. I'm in! Where the heck can I buy one?
First off, we think you're awesome. Now that that's been made clear, you can simply head to our online store over at, select the level of Barn Raiser you'd like to purchase, and then we'll get everything packed up and shipped to you for free within a couple days of your order!

Now that we've had a chance to explain some of the details involved with our Barn Raisers, we want to hear from you! Still got questions about what we're doing? Comments? Complaints? We want to you to drop us a line! If you like where we're headed and you think you may have friends who would also be interested, please feel free to forward this page to them or suggest they follow us on Facebook. Like we said earlier, we can't do this without you, and we appreciate every ounce of support from each and every one of you!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The Beast from the Yeast is Growing!

Since we started our wild yeast collection experiment a few months ago, we've had more than a few folks contact us via email or approach us at events and mention they'd noticed us because of our blog post or heard someone discussing what we're doing. Seems there's a lot of interest from a range of different folks about what we're attempting to do, and from what we can tell, most of you are as excited as we are about what we're hoping to find.

Recently, we were lucky enough to have been invited to pour at Homebrewed Raleigh, alongside our friends at Carrboro's very own Steel String Brewery and a number of awesomely talented homebrewers from around the Triangle area. During the second session of the event, an enthusiastic couple came by our table to try the beer we were pouring (we brought a cask of our Farmhouse IPA, a hoppy Witbier and a special Spring version of our Saison, made with locally-malted barley from our friends at Riverbend Malt House in Asheville, NC) and mentioned they'd read the earlier blog post about our little experiment. As the conversation continued, we learned that one of them currently works at a local university as a research specialist, spending a majority of her time watching yeast cells under a microscope (serendipity is a clever creature sometimes, no? :) After hearing her questions and concerns about what we had planned (I believe her words were along the lines of "you'll want to try not to kill anybody with that..." but I digress), we decided it made a bit more sense to have our new friend take a look at our collected samples and give us her feedback and advice.

Each of the four vials were collected from spots
around Saxapahaw, NC a few months ago.

So here's a little update on where we are with the experiment these days. Last weekend, we handed off 4 vials of our wild yeast cultures to our new friend, so she can plate each of them, freeze down a sample on a variety of media, and then move forward isolating individual strains that potentially exhibit the qualities we're looking for in a brewer's yeast (the amount of sugar the yeast will eat [called "attenuation"], the alcohol tolerance of the particular strain, the ability for it to clump together and fall out of solution [called "flocculation"] after it's done doing its thing...). Right now, there exists in each vial a miasma of all kinds of living beasts (some friendly, some a bit more dastardly), so it's important to try to grow up single colonies of yeast cells in an effort to tell them apart and separate each of them into individual "neighborhoods", so we can really see what we're looking at, and (down the road) pitch the right amounts of each type into the beer we're making. Did I mention I'm glad we now have help with this?

This is an example of Brettanomyces Bruxellensis,
one of a many organisms we're hoping to find in our samples.

Once the strains are isolated and we can actually take a look at pure cultures, we're going to get DNA sequenced for the ones we want (so we can potentially identify them and match them up with existing strains), then pull a few into a very simple beer recipe (90-100% base malt, with a little specialty malt thrown in for a bit of body & sweetness, depending on the types of yeast we end up with and are testing out). These will be split evenly into a number of small fermenters, so we can let the aroma and flavor qualities of the yeast shine and see what we've got. We'll ferment the beer out and measure the sugars, and then analyze the results from a number of angles.

If we end up with an appealing outcome, we're hoping we can bank the yeast(s) with a service such as the one White Labs offers, and then be able to order that particular strain whenever we want to brew a new batch of a particular style. It'll be like having our own unique library of Saxapahaw yeast to use for the beer we make!

A secondary goal we have is to be able to gather data on what true spontaneous fermentation here in central North Carolina might look like, and then collect the data we need to attempt to control certain aspects of the process for a future batch of wild fermented lambic. But coolships and spontaneous fermentation is a subject worthy of another blog post. Stay tuned, folks—this is getting fun. ;)