Our Brew Blog & News


A few things I wish I'd known as a young brewer 0

- What the heck is Irish MossThis kettle fining additive may appear in recipes from time to time and you'll see it listed as being added during the last 15 minutes of the boil. Irish Moss is actually an edible red sea weed, so if you take a whiff you may find it reminiscent of a marina/fish market. The active compound that we brewers are interested in is called carageenan. This is the same compound used in Whirlfloc tablets. 

Carageenan carries a negative charge and the proteins in our wort carry a positive charge. When we add the fining agent to the boil, it roils around attracting proteins to itself; this effectively creates larger particles. When we chill the wort, it is easier for these larger particles to drop out and settle to the bottom, leaving a clearer, less protein-laden beer wort. What does this mean? It means we don't end up with these proteins or carageenan in the final beer.

If you want great clarity and also want to significantly reduce the gluten content and you are adverse to using carageenan, try Clarity Ferm. This enzyme, developed by White Labs, is added to the fermenter when you pitch the yeast. After fementation is complete, everything settles out and you're left with brilliant gluten-reduced beer.

- Cleaning and Sanitizing- These are different processes. The first is the process of removing physical particulates, such as yeast scum build-up on the walls of the fermenter. Sanitizing follows cleaning and is defined as removing 99.999% of microorganisms. If something is not clean, it cannot be sanitized. Remember, you can't sanitize dirt. Cleaners will be labelled as cleaners, and approved sanitizers will say sanitizer. Note: winemakers often use metabisulphite solutions as sanitizers; this is not recommended for beer brewers.

For cleaners, we offer Oxygen Brewery Wash (OBW) and Powdered Brewery Wash (PBW). Both are very effective and should be rinsed with hot water after use.

We carry two quality sanitizers. Io-Star is a non-foaming iodine-based sanitizer that requires one minute of contact time to be effective. It will stain plastic if allowed prolonged exposure, but this is just aesthetic. Star San is a phosphoric acid-based sani that requires five minutes of contact time and foams. Sanitizers should not be rinsed.

Fermentation Temperature- This can be the difference between good beer and great beer. Yeast will perform differently and create different compounds when subjected to varying temperatures. Always make sure that you ferment in a relatively temperature-stable environment and try to stay within a yeast's ideal range. Every yeast is different, so a comprehensive explanation of differences is impractical here, but we are always willing to offer advise as to the best yeast for your temperatures.

Playing with fermentation temperature is one more way that we can manipulate the final profile of a beer or wine. For example, California Ale or champagne yeast will be cleaner and more neutral when fermented at the low end of their range, and they'll be more estery (esters are aromatic compounds produced by yeast) and less neutral if fermented hotter. Saison yeasts and other Belgian yeasts may be too bubblegummy or underattenuate (not ferment completely) if they aren't fermented hot enough. Hefeweizen yeasts will give you more of the banana and fruit esters when fermented hot and more of the clove-like phenolics when fermented cooler.

- Pitch rates- Start looking into yeast starters. Pitching the appropriate amount of yeast can also mean the difference between good beer and great beer. A single vial of yeast when fresh contains approximately 100 billion cells. It's not that a vial won't ferment out a wort, but it may underattenuate and/or can produce some off-flavors or aromas because it's too stressed out. It's also quite possible that the beer won't taste or smell bad at all, but it won't be quite as crisp or "right" as it could otherwise be with a higher pitch rate. It is also worth noting that nearly all dry yeasts (11gram packs) contain about 200 billion cells, a more adequate number for most ferments. Some good resources are Mr. Malty and Brewers Friend.

  • Theodore Clevenger

Upcoming Seminar! 0

As part of our commitment to being the best local homebrew shop in WNC, we're making strides this year to provide more educational opportunities to the community.

At the end of this month, we will be presenting the first seminar of our 2016 educational series. This will be geared towards those interested in starting, just starting, or thinking of expanding their own brewery, winery, cidery, or distillery. Please note that while this event is free, we do require a reservation so that we can have enough materials on hand for everyone. Call or email to reserve your space!

Saturday, January 30th @ 3pm
Protecting the Pint

Insurance Basics for Brewers

Presented by: Anthony Mitchell, Insurance Service of Asheville

A cannot miss seminar designed for:

  • Craft brewers in the business startup stage (build out and early days of running the operation)
  • Hobbyist contemplating taking their passion to the marketplace by opening a brewery or brewpub

 Topics include:

  • Brewery insurance basics: property & liability coverage, liquor liability insurance, workers’ compensation, and others
  • The information insurance companies request for an accurate quote & how pricing is determined
  • How your coverage changes when your business model changes & when you grow
  • And more!

Bring your questions and a thirst for knowledge to this free seminar being held at 32 Banks Ave Catawba Brewing tasting room on the South Slope.  Please contact Tedd Clevenger at avlbrewersupply@gmail.com to confirm your reservation as space will be limited and materials may be provided.

Anthony Mitchell, LUTCF is a former teacher with 17+ years in the insurance industry, 13+ of those here in Asheville.  He actively works in the brewing community with craft brewers, brew suppliers, brewing consultants, and educational institutions.

Oddball Mutterings 0

So... it's already November, and it's halfway over. Today we look back a bit, and we look forward some too.

Autumn is certainly upon us and we've enjoyed ourselves so far. First, at September's end, we sponsored the beer tent at the French Broad River Festival. As you may recall from reading our blog on "our primitivo" it was this fantastic little beer and music fest that was responsible for my incredible headache on the day we crushed our California grapes... Looking forward to the spring iteration of this festival!

At the beginning of this month, we attended the NC CiderFest and got to sample some great ciders. We also did a live demo apple crush and gave a talk on making hard cider. In short, we had a blast and are really looking forward to next year! 

In other cider news, we are running a special on our CiderHouse cider kits- 20% off any kit now through the end of the month (if ordering online, use code cider20 to receive discount). These kits come with the yeast and the juice concentrate. You simply need to add 2 pounds of corn sugar and the water to reconstitute the juice. Easy. Delicious. 

Enough of the sales pitch now. What else... Veteran's Day. Yes, it has passed, but our gratitude has not. A huge thank you to all that have served and still serve; only you know the depth of your sacrifices. And a very big thank you to your family, friends, and other loved ones who also often sacrifice peace, comfort, and much else. Thank you.

Thanksgiving is coming. This is followed by Black Friday, the day that we all go ballistic to get new stuff after having just given thanks for what we have. Sorry, but no special Black Friday specials from us, just the usual deals, discounts, and fair pricing. On Thanksgiving, please do take a moment to reflect and be thankful. This can be hard when you're busy entertaining and cooking, but it's important. While I'm on the topic, thank you. All of you, our wonderful patrons and friends, are what keep us here having fun and slinging our wares. You're the best.

New wares.... We finally have 1 gallon wide mouth glass jars with screw on lids! Kombucha anyone? Also, soon to hit our shelves is the new Genesis fermenter! We're excited about this new piece of equipment, so stay tuned.

New Brewery... Mike Karnowski is opening Zebulon Brewing in Weaverville, NC, just north of us a bit. Read all about it here! This is going to be a really unique and exciting brewery to have here in our little nook of the Appalachian Mountains.

Also worth mentioning was the epic nature of our last Brewers Social. If you are missing these, you should try to make it to one. We have so much fun hanging out with all of you and drinking your mighty creations!

Cheers! Prost! Love each other!

  • Theodore Clevenger