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!