Brewers Put Local Hops, Barley, Yeast and More into Their Beers

23 Dec

It’s a true quaff for a locavore: a beer made mere yards from the table where it’s served, using ingredients sourced within a 45-mile radius.

Brewed at Dogfish Head’s brew pub in Rehoboth Beach, DNA (Delaware Native Ale) contains barley milled at an 18th-century mill in Milford, peaches and pears from Fifer Orchards near Dover and hops grown by the brewery’s purchasing manager, Chad Collier. Dogfish President Sam Calagione fermented the beer with a wild yeast he cultured from the orchard with help from University of Delaware microbiologists. He even persuaded Delaware Gov. Jack Markell (D) to declare the strain, Kloeckera apiculata, the official state yeast. “Everyone has a state flower, but I’m pretty sure that’s a first,” Calagione says.

State-centric brews such as DNA are setting standards for what it means to be a “local” beer. In Grandy, N.C., brew master Nick Williams of the Weeping Radish Farm Brewery brewed his annual Christmas Beer, a German-style doppelbock, with barley and hops grown in-state.

AC Golden Brewing, a specialty division of MillerCoors, is marketing Colorado Native, an amber lager that’s brewed (so AC Golden’s president, Glenn Knippenberg, asserts) “99.89 percent” from Colorado-grown ingredients.

Local Acre, an imperial pilsner fromLakefront Brewery in Milwaukee, one-ups that: It’s made 100 percent from Wisconsin barley and hops. Brewery President Russ Klisch says he’ll offer Local Acre to Washington-area distributors who already carry his gluten-free beer, New Grist.

Meanwhile, a few breweries in the Free State are approaching the goal of an all-Maryland beer.

In August, Flying Dog Brewery in Frederick released a harvest ale called Secret Stash, using Cascade and Chinook hops sourced from Stillpoint Farm in Mount Airy and Black Locust Hops in northern Baltimore County. “It was difficult finding malted barley, but we did use local corn, wheat and potatoes,” recalled brew master Matt Brophy. He says he will release a new version of Secret Stash in 2012: “Our goal is to increase the proportion of local ingredients every year.”

For more than a decade, Tom Flores, brew master for the Brewer’s Alley in Frederick, has been working with dairy farmer Greg Clabaugh to establish a local pipeline for malted barley. Clabaugh said he harvested about 14,000 pounds this year from five or six acres of his SC Willow Lane Farm in Detour. Clabaugh has improvised a malt house using milk tanks and parts from a hay elevator. “It looks like one of those junkyard wars you see on TV, but by gosh, it does the trick,” he laughs.

So far, Brewer’s Alley has crafted three Amber Fields beers using the local barley, including an English-style mild now on tap.

In Berlin, Md., a recent start-up calledBurley Oak Brewing plans to begin distributing kegs throughout Maryland by early 2012. They will include an IPA spiked with rye grown on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. The farmer, Brooks Clayville of Snow Hill, is experimenting with a new variety of winter barley that he hopes will be suitable for brewing.

Source: The Washington Post, Greg Kitsock