The Brewlog: Regulator Brewing Company Blog

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

Posts marked ‘Author: Anna MacDonald Dobbs

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.

Regulator is Legal!

Regulator is North Carolina’s newest brewery!  Yahoo!

So, we’re gonna crank up the system this weekend for a double brew day.  Is there a better way to celebrate Labor Day and our final permit approval?


Nope, we didn’t think so.

If you wanna know more about what we’ll be brewing, scroll down for details on beer names and the label design.

And we’re pretty sure that your now-burning questions include when and where to get Regulator beer. We hear you!  Details are coming on our beer releases, which we’ll share via our email list and on our events page.  If you want updates delivered to your inbox, sign up for the email list.  You can also catch us on Facebook and Twitter.


The folks behind Regulator Brewing, L to R: Stephanie, Dustin, Ryan, and Anna.
Stephanie, Dustin, Ryan and Anna


Hops Harvest at Farm Boy Farms

In early August, the Regulator crew went out to Farm Boy Farms in Pittsboro to help with their hops harvest. We harvested Cascade, Centennial, Chinook and Nugget.



Got to be NC!

Regulator is proud to be one of the latest members of Got to be NC, a program run by the NC Department of Agriculture.  We join ranks with almost 3,000 other members in the state, which means you can look for this logo on our labels!

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It is part of our mission to produce locally sourced – not just locally bottled – beer.  For us that means we commit to buying at least 75 percent of the ingredients in each batch of beer from local farmers and maltsters.  We are excited to provide you with Beer from Here. Each time you crack one open, you support North Carolina farmers with us!

Want to know more about how Regulator does business?  Check out our mission, vision and values here.

Starting a Brewery? Tips for the TTB Application

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The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade (TTB) application is one of the most daunting challenges to opening a brewery.  It’s exceedingly thorough and comes before any of the other state or local applications.  The approval process often takes more than 4 months.

Thanks in large part to the help of other brewers who were willing to share their experience, we were lucky to have our application approved in 22 days. In the spirit of those who shared with us, we’d like to offer a few tips to help other new brewers navigate this challenging process.

One of the most tedious parts of the TTB application is the “Sources of Funds” documentation, where you must account for every cent of startup capital. If anyone who has contributed money is not an owner, the TTB requires a letter from that person stating that they have no ownership interest in the company.

This really freaked us out–we were dreading the logistical nightmare of getting individual letters from our 150+ Kickstarter backers.* We wrote Kickstarter and asked if they could provide us one letter explicitly stating that no ownership transfer was tied to the deposit we received from Kickstarter.** Kickstarter did, and the TTB accepted their letter.

Open a bank account ASAP
If your brewery does not have an established bank account with 6 months of records, each owner will have to supply, at a minimum, 5 months of personal financial records. Being able to simply send brewery financial statements streamlined the process and made it a lot less personally intrusive.

Answer every question
There will be some questions seemingly intended for big breweries (power generation,  waste water, etc.).  Answer them anyway. For the power generation question we put something simple, along the lines of: “All power will be purchased from our local power utility and delivered through the existing power grid.”

Err on the side of too much detail
With the TTB, “more” seems to be “more.” We described the building in extensive detail, including every aspect of the brewery’s construction, down to drywall thickness. Make sure your floor plan shows where every single part of the brewery will be located–including windows, sinks, and floor drains.


Finally, be prepared for everything to go well! We have no idea how the process will go for you, but make a contingency plan in case the process goes faster than expected. We tied our project schedule to a longer approval process; as it turned out, we could have significantly shortened our timeline.


*Can we say thank you, again?  Yes. Thank you, again.

**Kickstarter actually has a policy that states “project creators keep 100% ownership of their work, and Kickstarter cannot be used to offer equity, financial returns, or to solicit loans.”  We quoted this back to them when we asked for a letter!


Remembering the Regulators

Before June gets away from us, we thought it worth mentioning that we enjoyed attending (a thunderstorm-shortened) Regulator Day Remembrance on the 19th just down the road from the brewhouse.  It seemed only fitting that we be there.

The Regulator Historic Site in Hillsborough is tucked behind the Orange County Board of Education building on E. King Street.  It commemorates the spot where six Regulators were hanged on June 19, 1771 after the Battle of Alamance at the order of the colonial Governor, William Tryon.

Local Historian Scott Washington recounted some of the history and Mayor Tom Stevens tolled a bell in their memory while a Regulator descendent read the names of those who met a rather gruesome end:  Captain Benjamin Merrill, Captain Messer, Robert Matear, James Pugh, and two whose names are unknown.

Scott Washington speaks at Regulator Remembrance Day
Scott Washington speaks at the June 19, 2015 Regulator Day Remembrance event

Interested in more Regulator history?

You can find a lot of information online – we’d recommend starting here and here.

What’s the connection to beer?

We’re glad you asked.  The Regulators in pre-Revolutionary NC fought for the small farmers’ right to participate fairly in the local economy.  Not only do we support this standard, we believe that products grown by local farms are better for us and our beer.

The Setup!

Well hey, y’all!  We’ve been working hard getting things set up at the brewhouse.  Thought we’d take you on a preliminary tour.

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R-L: Hot Liquor Tank, Mashtun, Boil Kettle

Check out the pots on that custom-built table!  The black box on the wall is the brains of the system, allowing us to control temperatures and liquid flow. We’ll use the HLT (right) to heat water, half of which will run through a hose into the mashtun (middle), where we’ll add the crushed grain.  Water will continuously cycle between the HLT and mashtun to retain appropriate temperature while the grain mashes/steeps.  Once that process is done, the wort will be drained off into the boil kettle (left)…to be boiled.

Electric heating element in the boil kettle

Electric heating element in the boil kettle

Once boiled, the beer-to-be is transferred into the Fermenators, which are housed in temp-controlled freezers.  The yeast goes to work during this stage.



And finally it will transfer to the kegs/brite tanks to condition, clarify and carbonate.  The whole process is a little bit magic, but we actually get to use a magic/carbonation wand during this last step to introduce the bubbles before bottling right out of the brite tanks.  Sweet.

Brite Tanks

Brite Tanks

We’re getting there – one electrical outlet, one vent hood, one fermenator at a time!

Regulator Gives Back

We’ve been overwhelmed by everybody’s enthusiasm for us and our beer here at Regulator Brewing Company.  Given the season and our company’s commitment to re-investing in our community, we are thrilled to highlight three local non-profits that we are supporting as part of Giving Tuesday.

All play a role in strengthening the local food system, ensuring that farmers can make a living and building our food community.

Abundance Logo

Abundance NC brings people together to cultivate and celebrate community resilience in the Piedmont of North Carolina. They also host the Pittsboro Pepper Festival, an event we love to attend!  Learn more:

Farmer Foodshare

Farmer Foodshare connects people who grow food with people who need food. They strive to make fresh, local food available to everyone in the community, and to make sure farmers growing it make a healthy living.  Learn more:


The Rural Advancement Foundation International cultivates markets, policies and communities that support thriving, socially just, and environmentally sound family farms.  Learn more:


We’d also be remiss not to mention that we’re proud members of the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association, a non-profit that helps people in the Carolinas grow and eat local and organic food.

Kickstarter Update: 14 days to go!


Kickstarter has been a wild ride for us!  Because of everybody’s enthusiasm and support, we exceeded our initial goal in 11 days and picked up some media coverage for that feat here and here.

We’ve decided that a stretch goal of $15,500 is in order, since we have 14 days left in our campaign. Additional funds will allow us to upgrade to stainless conical fermenters and stainless magnetic drive pumps.

Oooooh, Ahhhhh: Magnetic Drive Pumps
Oooooh, Ahhhhh: Magnetic Drive Pumps!

I’m confident I speak for us all, when I say that we never imagined getting so excited about pumps and pots before we started this venture, but this would be like Christmas come early!


Fermenters: Where the Magic Happens
Fermenters: Where the Magic Happens

If you haven’t checked out our rewards, now is a great time to get in on the action!


Howdy, again.

Now that you know a little more about us (see first post below), let’s talk about how we got to the point of opening a brewery and what we hope to accomplish with Regulator.

When did you first get the idea to open a brewery?

Dustin: The very first time I brewed, but things started to get more serious last October. Within three weeks I visited Singlecut Beersmiths in NY and Westbrook Brewing in SC and really started to love the idea of starting a brewery (both places have a great feel and are worth the trip). Everything started to come together after the Westbrook trip when Steph said she would love owning a small brewery and taproom. We ended up talking about opening a brewery the whole five hours home (including the name).

Steph: I don’t think we would have gotten much further than that on our own, though.  Fortunately, Ryan and Anna are as crazy as we are and the “what if..” conversations continued until our first official business meeting in February of this year.


Brewsness meeting in full force

Brewsness meeting in full force

Anna: A big selling point for all of us was winning first place at 2013 Homebrew for Hunger and hearing great feedback from folks there.  People liked our beer…a lot!

Ryan: Like Dustin, it is something I have dreamed about since I became obsessed with homebrewing.  However, I never really gave it any concrete thought until after Homebrew for Hunger.  The fact that so many people asked us “where can I buy this?” was eye-opening for me.  I remember the February night at the Mystery Brewing taproom when Dustin and Steph told us they were really thinking hard about going for it.  They started the conversation, and we have all taken the leap together.  I am also very thankful that Anna has been so supportive, involved, and excited during this entire process.  It’s exciting to embark on this adventure together with close friends and family.

What’s most exciting to you about starting a Brewery?

A: Making something that people can enjoy together.

D: Seeing people enjoy beer recipes we have developed over the years. We’ve developed some of these recipes all the way from extract brewing and it’s exciting to see people enjoy them and compare them, usually favorably, to the beers I love.

S: Getting to know our community in a brand new way–meeting and talking with farmers, suppliers, officials, committees, and other business owners.

R: The opportunity to do something that we love and to channel our creative energy to create something that people enjoy.  To me, that is truly fulfilling and rewarding.

Why a nano-brewery? (We get this one a lot)

D: I like the idea of starting small and think it will allow us to do some pretty awesome things (using 75% local ingredients!).

S: It means we’ll have a lot of flexibility–seasonal brews using produce that’s only available for a short time, special editions, tweaking recipes based on feedback. We’re not opposed to growing, but we want to grow in tandem with our local suppliers.

R: From a business and personal standpoint, it is a more manageable way to start.  We really wanted to establish an identity and reputation within the local community and be directly involved with all aspects of the business.

Why local?

D: I think it is always great to see local economies find ways to support themselves from within. We hope that by using local producers we cannot only be a local business, but also help support other local businesses and create a more robust, self-sustaining economy that is less dependent on manufacturing and chain retail.


Harvesting hops to go in Regulator beer (and other people's beer, too) at Farm Boy Farms

Harvesting hops to go in Regulator beer (and other people’s beer, too) at Farm Boy Farms

S: Definitely–building on that, I feel a pride and sense of stewardship for businesses and products that are unique to where I live. It’s part of what makes friends and family love visiting us in Hillsborough, and we realize it’s something we seek out when we travel. We want to belong to this community–and we can’t think of a better way than to use local suppliers and local ingredients.

A: What she said.

What has been surprising?

A: The unreal number of rules and regulations on local, state and federal levels.  No wonder people bootleg.  (Don’t worry – we’re doing everything by the book, folks!)

D: The response from people. We threw the website and twitter up on a lark when we were snowed in and were overwhelmed by the immediate response we received.  The progress we’ve made in 5 days on our Kickstarter has been amazing!

S: The beer scene!  It’s a great time to be a beer drinker in North Carolina–holy cow. Festivals, tastings, meetups–there’s something happening all. the. time. We’re just getting our feet wet, but it’s already been so much fun to be a part of it all.

R: What we have been able to accomplish already as a team in terms of developing a business plan, strategy and identity.  We certainly have a long way to go and many details to figure out, but the collaborative effort as well as the support of the community has been outstanding.

Where can I see an awesome video about Regulator?

A: On our Kickstarter page:  (Shameless Plug)

Have you got any other questions?

Email us or leave them on facebook or twitter – we’re happy to answer!

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All contents © 2019 Regulator Brewing Company
Hillsborough, North Carolina
(919) 589-BREW