To Grain Or
Fall Into Seasonals
Brew Season is here
by Alex Shoenthal • September 1, 2016
Hello, there! Hope everyone had a fun and thirsty summer. Although I will miss long summer nights, BBQs and beach trips, I always look forward to fall because, plain and simple, it’s brewing season.
Sure, summer’s higher temps make it the optimal time to brew certain styles of beer that like to ferment warmer, such as Belgian Ales, Hefe-Weisse and Sours. But the heat is a hindrance for most homebrewers for a couple of reasons. One, unless you keep your AC at 68 degrees, your house is too warm for styles like IPAs, Pale Ales and most American and British styles. And secondly, it’s hot — especially this year! Nothing like hovering over boiling liquids in a 110-degree garage for five hours to make you cheer fall’s arrival.
Fall is a great time of year to use North Carolina’s amazing selection of cultivated and wild fruits and vegetables in your craft beverages. Fruit beers, meads, ciders and fruit wines are fun to make and delicious to enjoy. Wild blackberries, persimmons, figs, sour cherries, peaches and pumpkins are just a few of my locally grown favorites that end up in my fermenters.
Using fruit is fun but can be tricky. If you don’t process and sanitize it properly, it can spoil your entire batch. Knowing how much to add can also be challenging. Subtle fruits like strawberries and blueberries will require a larger amount for the flavors to come through. I generally recommend a ratio of one to two pounds of fruit per gallon of beer for most fruits.
Pumpkin beer is undoubtedly one of the most popular fall seasonals. Store shelves will be inundated for the next few months with every brewery’s interpretation of this historic style. While many homebrewers reach for that can of processed glop from the grocery store to use in their pumpkin brews, I strongly urge against it. Instead, wait until pie pumpkins are available at your market. These small beauties are infinitely more flavorful in the final product. I half mine, sprinkle with pie spice and brown sugar, and bake, caramelizing the sugars and making the flesh sweet. Then I add to the mash, where they contribute flavor, body and fermentable sugars.
As many of my readers already know, I am transitioning from homebrewers to pro brewer. I’ve taken the role as head brewer for Rivermen Brewing Company’s new brewery and restaurant located in historic Belmont. I am beyond thrilled to finally be able to share my passion for brewing (and my beers) with the community.
It’s a giant leap, and as things progress, I look forward to sharing my experiences in this new adventure. Rivermen is also a farm-to-table restaurant featuring exclusively local produce and meat. Our new brewery is like nothing you’ve seen before, and will be open to the public in early fall 2016. Which is just one more reason for me to be happy that fall is upon us. Can’t wait to see you th
Learn the Craft Articles
An intro to the art of home brewing
Brewing with food in mind is all about the taste.
Home-brewing Minds Want To Know
Brew Season is here
Homebrew Supply Stores
Beer & Wine Hobbies
(704) 527-2337 Ext 3
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Seven Jars Products
Cabarrus Homebrewers Society
Public group meets the second Thursday of the month at Cabarrus Creamery.
Public group meets the first Wednesday of the month at 6:30 p.m. at Dilworth Neighborhood Grill.
Iredell Brewers United
Public group meets the second Monday of the month at Ultimate Ales in Mooresville at 7 p.m.
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