The Brewlog: Regulator Brewing Company Blog

News, etc. from Regulator Brewing Company. Updated sporadically.

Giving Tuesday 2016: Supporting Local Farm and Food System Initiatives

Since there are still a few hours left of #GivingTuesday, we wanted to take a second to plug some non-profits in our area who contribute to the strength and versatility of our local food market.  Regulator really appreciates, and in some ways directly benefits from, the important work these folks do: we couldn’t make our 75% local ingredient promise without a sustainable (and growing) local food system. Whether it’s today with a donation, or sometime in the future as a volunteer or benefit attendee, please consider supporting the following initiatives:

  • Abundance NC

    Abundance aims to be a hub of community resilience in central North Carolina, sourcing out abundant local opportunities to live sustainably.

  • Carolina Farm Stewardship Association

    CFSA helps people in the Carolinas grow and eat local, organic food by advocating for fair farm and food policies.

  • Farmer Foodshare

    Farmer Foodshare connects people who grow food with people who need food.

  • PORCH

    PORCH, Inc. is an all-volunteer, nonprofit hunger relief organization that provides healthy food and other assistance to thousands of families living in poverty. 

  • RAFI USA

    RAFI (Rural Advancement Foundation International) cultivates markets, policies and communities that support thriving, socially-just, and environmentally-sound family farms.

 

Giving Tuesday 2016

Holiday Gift Ideas!

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It’s the day after Thanksgiving… we here at Regulator are thankful for each other, our families, our community, and–of course–beer.  If Black Friday has turned your thoughts to gift-giving, we’re here for you: we have plenty of t-shirts for the beer lovers on your list, as well as an assortment of stickers and glassware.

Check out our online store!

Merchandise purchases support our mission to brew every beer with at least 75% local ingredients–so cross a gift off your list and feel good about it, too!

Happy Birthday to Regulator!

Last week, Regulator celebrated the one-year anniversary of our launch party. It’s hard to believe we’re one year old already!  It’s been a blast, and we wouldn’t be here without such a supportive community. Just for fun, we thought we’d take a look back at the year in numbers. Stay tuned for some new seasonals this Fall/Winter (and maybe even some anniversary brews!)

Regulator 1 Year Infographic

This weekend: Eastern Triangle Farm Tour

Are you 21?

The Regulator crew is taking a (short) road trip this weekend! We’ll be helping the beautiful Blue Whistler Farm in Rougemont celebrate their first year on the Eastern Triangle Farm Tour: selling pints, and tussling with chickens.

If you’ve never been on one of Carolina Farm Stewardship Association‘s farm tours, you’re in for a treat: every year CFSA organizes area farms into two weekends of visitation days–one in the spring, and one in the fall.  It’s an opportunity to get acquainted with the rich and varied agricultural efforts in your neighborhood–check out the map of participating farms ahead of time and plan your route, or see where the wind takes you.  Either way, it’s a lovely way to spend a weekend day, and proceeds from tickets (one ticket required per carload–bring your friends!) go to support CFSA’s work advocating for policies that help farms thrive.

Amy and Josh at Blue Whistler have worked hard to build a bustling farm in a short amount of time. In addition to locally-sourced beer brewed by yours truly, you’ll be able to pick up handmade local dairy products, eggs and bakery items while you visit with rabbits, pigs, turkeys, and some beer-loving chickens.  See the writeup here for more information. Hope to see you there!

What’s Making Us Happy to Brew in NC, Part 3: Kegs and Hops and Yeast! Oh My!

In our previous post, we talked about how lucky NC breweries are to get great raw ingredients from local agribusinesses (shout out to Farm Boy Farms in Pittsboro for fresh hops).  Did you know that NC breweries can also source just about everything else they need from local companies? One of our main goals as a small business is “keeping our beer dollars in North Carolina” (thanks, Glenn and Dave!). We do that by working with local suppliers as often as possible–and this week, we want to spotlight two more NC businesses that are pivotal in closing our supply chain loop:

Deutsche Beverage Company

Deutsche Beverage is a boozeness in Charlotte, NC. Since 2007 they’ve helped breweries, wineries, and distilleries across the country quench your thirst. While their brew systems are too big for our operation, their INK Kegs are perfect; they’re made out of high-quality 304 stainless steel to help fight off flavors, and they’re stackable (great for a brewery that’s tight on space!). Not only is the product great, the customer service is even better–they’re always ready to fill an order and they usually have it to us the very next day. Next time you’re touring the breweries in South Charlotte, take a second to duck into their showroom and drool over all the beautiful stainless (surely that isn’t just a brewer thing, right?)

Bull City Homebrew

What do you do when you need supplies, but you’re too small for most suppliers’ minimums? You turn to the homebrew shop that’s been there for you from the beginning! We’ve been visiting Kyle and his Bull City Homebrew team from our very first homebrew sessions and we’re thrilled to keep working with them now that we’re a brewery. They’re always doing their best to keep us in hops and yeast, along with all the other tiny parts we need on a given brewday. This is a great relationship for us–we get to keep supporting one of our favorite local businesses, and get access to hops we wouldn’t be able to order on our own. If you’re a homebrewer or thinking about homebrewing, make the trip over to Bull City. You won’t be disappointed.

These are just a couple of the local suppliers we couldn’t bring you delicious Regulator brews without; we also lean on the homebrew shop at  Fifth Season Gardening in Carrboro and get our CO2 from the fine people at ARC3 Gases in Durham.

What’s Making Us Happy to Brew in NC, Part 2: Local Maltsters using Local Grain grown by Local Farmers

In part two of our NC Beer Month series, we’re taking you back to the beginning of the beginning – where the grain in our beer comes from and how it gets to us.  Since we use at least 75% local ingredients in each batch of our beer, this is really important to us.  Did you know that we also tell which what’s in each batch? For us a big part of “local” means “transparent” – so you know exactly what you’re drinking.

Here’s our bold, 100% true claim: Neither our brewery nor locally-sourced-NC-grown Beer from Here would be possible without folks like Brent Manning, Brian Simpson and their team at Riverbend Malthouse.

Brent and Brian started and run Riverbend in Asheville, and they work with and buy from grain farmers (our heroes!) within a 500-mile radius of the malthouse.  That includes a growing network of farmers in NC, VA, and KY (pun and double entendre intended).  This regional variety is crucial to make sure things like the weather/pests/plant disease don’t ruin an entire year’s crop.  We are, after all, making an agricultural product derived from agricultural products.  Getting that cold pint into your hot little hands depends on A LOT of things beyond human control going right.  We’re pretty sure that makes beer a miracle.

Back to Riverbend! Last fall, Brent was kind enough to give us a tour of their new and bigger facility, explain their floor malting process, and tell us more about how Riverbend is connecting farmers and brewers – or using the food systems lingo, closing the supply-side infrastructure gap to make Beer from Here possible.  You can also tour Riverbend – they think transparency is cool, too!

They can certainly tell their story better than we can, so we’d really encourage you to check out their website and blog.  Full disclosure: Their pictures are way better than ours, but here’s a few we took on our visit!

Stay tuned for next week’s installment of “what’s making us happy to brew beer in North Carolina,” and don’t forget to drink a North Carolina beer in honor of #NCBeerMonth! To find Regulator on tap in Hillsborough, keep an eye on where to find us, or catch up with us on facebook or twitter.

What’s Making Us Happy to Brew in NC, Part 1: Happy Cows

You may have heard: April is North Carolina Beer Month! In honor of NC Beer Month, and inspired by Pop Culture Happy Hour‘s segment, “what’s making us happy this week,” we’re doing a series here on the brewlog: “what’s making us happy to brew beer in North Carolina.”

For part one, we’re starting at the end of the brew day. Depending on the beer, each brew produces a tub or two of “spent grain:” crushed malt that’s been soaked in high-temp water to extract flavor, starches, and the sugars that make for good fermentation.  “Spent” is kind of a misnomer, though, because the brewing process leaves behind a lot of good stuff: spent grain is particularly high in protein and fiber, not to mention particularly tasty to cows.

Regulator’s spent grain doesn’t go to waste: Kim and Chad Woods of Spring Crest Farm (just up the road in Hurdle Mills) take it off our hands and put it to good use. In addition to being wonderful people, they’re a part of Firsthand Foods‘ network of conscientious local livestock farmers. Our contribution is small, but we’re proud to support this humane, sustainable North Carolina food system in any way. (To read more about Kim and Chad, visit their page on Firsthand Foods’ site.)

That’s a lot to be happy about, but if you’re not convinced, take a look at this:

Cows

Photo thanks to Kim Woods.


Stay tuned for next week’s installment of “what’s making us happy to brew beer in North Carolina,” and don’t forget to drink a North Carolina beer in honor of #NCBeerMonth! To find Regulator on tap in Hillsborough, keep an eye on where to find us, or catch up with us on facebook or twitter.

Let’s hear it for the gals!

It’s been a good week to be a lady: first, the Pink Boots Society Big Boots Brewday on Saturday the 5th–then, International Women’s Day on the 8th.

In celebration of these, and the fact that 50% of Regulator Brewing Company packs an extra X chromosome, Anna and I pushed up our sleeves and took over the brewhouse for a day.

Yes, that’s right: we pulled on our pink shoes and flowery boots, respectively (hey, those count, right?) and brewed you a batch of flagship Capsheaf Kölsch in the name of ladies… and beer.

Though it wasn’t our first beer-brewing rodeo, there was a lot to learn: while we’ve been busy building websites and running Kickstarter campaigns Dustin and Ryan learned some important things, like:

  • what happens when air bubbles get in your pumps
  • how fun it is when a hose burps 180-degree water on you
  • no matter what just happened, a bucket will probably help

In all seriousness, they taught us a lot, and as a result we’re hella proud of our brew (and our new skills). Who knows? Maybe this is the first of many lady-brewed Regulators.

 

Beer for the People: Kickstarter Rye Pale Ale

pollIt’s one of the challenges of launching a Kickstarter campaign in support of a new brewery: federal guidelines prohibit offering beer as a reward for donation. So, we thought: if we can’t give our backers beer brewed with local ingredients–the thing they’re supporting us to make–how about letting them design a beer?

We put together a poll (right) that would collect data on the characteristics of our backers’ favorite beer–color, hops, flavor, and finish. Then we waited for the results, hoping that the favorites would suggest an awesome beer.

Without further ado, here are the (highly scientific!) results:*

 

 

Bravo, backers! We’ll admit we were a little surprised; we were pretty sure we’d be brewing an IPA. Instead, you wanted an easy-drinking pale ale, with a little extra bite–which is awesome, because that’s our favorite, too.

When it came time to flesh out the recipe, we decided this was an opportunity to make our most local beer yet:  NC rye malted by Farm Boy Farms in Pittsboro would help give us the requested kick, along with Farm Boy barley for clean body. We’re really proud to say that 100% of the grains used in this beer were grown and malted here in North Carolina.

In a serendipitous twist, the folks at Weaver Street asked if we had any interest in picking some hops off of a vine on their property. The vine–we’re pretty sure it’s Cascade–went bonkers this year.

IMG_20150909_181521716

We picked all we could, and threw most of them into the boil with some non-NC Warrior hops. The rest we saved for dry-hopping (along with a couple of handfuls from a friend’s Hillsborough garden). We’re really proud of the end result, and hope our backers are too: ”Kickstarter Rye Pale Ale”–a really solid pale ale with just a hint of rye spice and a nice, smooth hop finish–will be on tap at the Wooden Nickel Pub and Mystery Brewing Company’s Public House in the next couple of weeks. Get some while you can!

*We could sit here all day weighing the advantages and disadvantages of various measures of central tendency–no really, we could. We did. Suffice it to say, we went with “mode.”

On “Locally Sourced:” an explanation of our 75% promise.

First and foremost among Regulator Brewing Company’s values is our commitment regarding local ingredients: we’ve promised that we’ll buy at least 75% of the ingredients of each batch from local farms. This investment (even if, like us, it’s relatively small) keeps us in lockstep with our local economy and we couldn’t be happier about that. We’ve been asked some questions about what that means, so here goes:

The Good:

We are incredibly lucky to be located in central North Carolina. Not only does North Carolina farm over 400,000 acres of wheat a year, we’re home to two malt houses (soon to be three!). Research and services at NC State and Appalachian State, combined with NC farmers willing to experiment, are developing hops and small grain varieties that are hardier to our climate. Farm and food businesses in NC are supported by a growing number of initiatives to increase supply and improve access to local products: ECO, based in Durham, Pittsboro’s Carolina Farm Stewardship Association, and Farmer Foodshare in Chapel Hill, to name a few.

…the Confusing:

We define “local” as “within state borders,” with the odd addition from nearby South Carolina or Virginia. The closer to our brewhouse, though, the better. It’s been educational for us to learn how others define local: sometimes it’s shipped in from somewhere else and processed or packaged locally. Other times a blended product may be labeled “local” with only a small percentage of actual local ingredients. In short, there’s not one definition.  We’re doing our best to find the most transparently-local products we can, and in turn, our labels don’t promise anything more than we can deliver: “at least 75% local.” Check out our beer list: you’ll find an ingredient list for each batch on each beer’s description page.

… the Challenging:

If it were up to us, every batch would be 100% locally sourced. You may have noticed the brewery business in North Carolina is growing (whaaat?), and fortunately, so is interest in local food and drink! Securing the local ingredients we need for our recipes before they’re gone for the season hasn’t been easy–especially when supply is also subject to weather, pests, and diseases. We may be small, but we still need 3,000 pounds of grain a year and we can’t command the kind of contracts the big guys can.  In response, we’ve taken a strategic approach: we’re optimizing our recipes to minimize the effect of one ingredient’s availability on the end result.

The Takeaway

Rest assured that Regulator beer is as truly local as we can make it, with an eye toward keeping the beers you love consistent.  We’ll keep our supply chain open to you at all times. All we ask? Keep drinking local beer! The more interest there is in local food and beverage, the faster our agricultural supply chain can grow.


Like hearing about the nuts and bolts of the local food economy? This is just the beginning: as a regular feature here on the BrewLog we’re going to highlight a local agribusiness. Stay tuned!

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All contents © 2017 Regulator Brewing Company
Hillsborough, North Carolina
regulatorbrewing@gmail.com
(919) 589-BREW