One of the concepts we originally had when setting up our farmhouse style brewery in Saxapahaw was the idea of working alongside local farmers on an annual basis to grow certain ingredients for our core beers. It just makes natural sense—Alamance County is home to plenty of successful small farms that responsibly raise livestock, grow all sorts of delicious food, or forage for unique ingredients that grow wild here in North Carolina...
1. You have to stand out amongst your peers. The craft beer world is one of the most collaborative, most supportive, most amicable business environments out there—it really is an amazing world in which to live and work. But the fact is, breweries are opening every day across the country, and when it comes down to it, we’re all still in business to keep the lights on, right? To become appealing to the wonderful world of beer bars and craft-centric restaurants out there, you must have a clear, distinct brand (your logo, website, look & feel, and general story behind what you’re doing), so your prospective customers know what they’re buying into, and what they’re representing to their own customers. Ask yourself what makes your brewery, your beer and your brand different from five of your favorite local breweries, and then think about how best you can showcase what makes your brewery different enough from theirs to stick in the minds of your customers in an appealing way (and without seeming boastful or degrading to anyone else, of course). And please, please, leave the inside jokes, the sexist symbolism and the overt shock value out of your message. You're a craft brewer now—it should be fun, but you also gotta act like you belong in the big leagues..
We're looking for a hard-working full-timer who’s ready to get a few callouses on his or her hands and learn what it means to work at a small, family-run brewery. Haw River Farmhouse Ales is currently in need of a delivery driver/line cleaner to drive a company vehicle and deliver kegs (and soon cases of bottles) to accounts in the Triangle, Triad and Charlotte regions of NC each week. Ideally, we’re looking at scheduled deliveries four days per week, although that’s an estimate and may change, depending on all kinds of things. You’ll be responsible for delivery of our beer and line cleaning duties for all accounts. This is currently a 4-day/week job, but may evolve as our account base grows. Aside from being on the road, there’s certainly room for growth within the production facility itself and possible tasting room shifts available as well for extra money..
A couple of weeks ago, Dawnya & I drove to the office of ABC in Raleigh to submit all our final paperwork and cross our fingers for the permits we'd need to legally brew beer in the state of North Carolina. Luckily, we had all our ducks in a row (definitely Dawnya's doing), because we left the office that afternoon with smiles on our faces and all the paperwork we needed to get going. Our first few batches are now bubbling away as I type this, and we couldn't be more excited about getting going with the brewery. To make sure we clearly communicate what you can expect from Haw River Farmhouse Ales over the next month or two, we've put together a little summary of our expected scheduling, plans for initial distribution, our planned event calendar, an idea for which beers are coming out of the gate first, and a few other pieces of info you may find helpful..
Those of you who follow us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram may have noticed over the past few weeks that we've been posting images of the Haw River team working closely with friends at other NC breweries on a bit of a rather mysterious project. What do you do when you have an army of friends in the beer industry, but are patiently awaiting the day you can open your own doors? Why, you make beer with them!.
In a couple of weeks, Haw River Farmhouse Ales is launching one final round of fundraising to add a few special pieces of equipment, using Kickstarter.com as our crowdsourcing platform of choice. For quite some time, we've been a bit hesitant to consider something like Kickstarter, since it's arguably used by many startup breweries these days as an afterthought, many times without much effort or respect for the folks being asked to open their wallets and jump into the mix...
As many of our friends and followers know, we've recently collected, isolated and banked our very own native yeast strain from right here in Saxapahaw, and we've been letting it stretch its legs in a few internal test batches we've brewed, as well as a commercial beer called Little Miss NC that we recently collaborated on with Trophy Brewing Company.
So far, we've been thrilled with how our little Saxapahaw yeast strain has performed. It's played wonderfully in test batches of a Belgian Blonde, a Saison and a Belgian-style Tripel that we've brewed here. If we give it the right malt bill, it flocculates beautifully, leaving a crystal clear beer after about 20-30 days (although it finishes out a ~1.060 wort in about half that time). Again, assuming we want it to, it can attenuate at room temperature quite easily, leaving a clean, crisp, dry beer.
Over the past couple of years, we've had dozens of folks stop us around town here in Saxapahaw to say "Hey, can I grow some (fill in the blank with something delicious) for you?" Even I'm surprised at how willing neighbors out here in the country are to try their hands at growing ingredients for us—it's quite humbling, to be honest. And as much as we appreciate the willingness to help, it's sometimes a tough question to answer. Growing a few hop bines or an acre of barley isn't too difficult to do, but producing enough for commercial batches of beer, guaranteeing consistency and quality, and preparing ingredients properly to be used with the equipment most commercial breweries use... that's a different story, and still a daunting challenge for most small farmers.