Farley’s Feature – This is Not Your Father’s AB InBev!

This is Not Your Father’s AB InBev

I first got into homebrewing in the early 1990s after I spent a year studying in Scotland. While I was there, I traveled the continent and tried a huge variety of beers. Coming from the United States, I found European beer totally mind-blowing. I discovered malty 90 Shilling Ale in Scotland, well-balanced bitters in London, refined and wine-like Trappist ales in Brussels, bready and clovey Hefeweizens in Germany, and hoppy and robust golden pilsners in Prague. It opened up a whole new world: I had no idea there was so much diversity of flavors and experiences out there to explore.

In 1993, I found myself back in the States. Apart from a handful of visionary brewing pioneers, the United States was largely a beer desert. It was in that environment that I started a small homebrewing shop that I named Northern Brewer.

Northern Brewer’s mission was to educate our customers about the amazing diversity of international beer styles and to help people brew those beers on a hobbyist-scale. It was quite a challenge to convince somebody to brew a lambic, a stout or an IPA when 99% of the beer being sold was an American lager made with corn or rice.

But an amazing thing has happened over the past 20-odd years. Everything has changed.

Today, whether you are in New York or Memphis, you can’t go into a restaurant without finding a variety of delicious, interesting, and often locally-produced beers on the beer list. Everybody, everywhere is demanding better beer. It is clear to me that homebrewers drove this change, transforming the United States into the most exciting and dynamic beer scene on the planet. And who are the proprietors of the thousands of new local breweries? Homebrewers like you and me.

So when I sat down recently and thought about our 20-year old mission — particularly the part about educating people about beer — I began to look around the office for a spot to hang the “Mission Accomplished” banner. And then the phone rang. On the other end AB InBev, the world’s largest brewer and parent of Anheuser-Busch. As you might imagine, I was more than a little skeptical that we would have anything at all to talk about.

What I soon realized is that this is not your father’s AB InBev! It turns out that the world’s largest brewer has also seen the light — which is something that was unfathomable even 10 years ago.

Our relationship with AB InBev is already paying dividends. We’ve joined the brewers at Goose Island to make an authentic homebrewed version of their wonderful Milk Porter. This is just the first in what will become a regular series of partnerships with brewers across the country. If there are particular beers, styles or breweries you’d like us to work with, send us an email or give us a call. We want to hear from you!

We’ve also been working with the AB InBev team to source ingredients that have never before been available to North American brewers. Southern Star — a unique, pleasant hop variety bred and grown in South Africa will be available later this month. You won’t find this hop available anywhere but Northern Brewer! We are also on a mission to bring European craft recipes to American shores through an exciting new program this year, and this is just the beginning.

AB InBev understands that today’s beer drinkers are looking for creative, flavorful beers that are produced by local breweries, often in settings like neighborhood tap rooms and brew pubs. And they are transforming their company to deliver that experience.

Over the past five or six years, AB InBev has assembled a truly remarkable portfolio of craft beer brands. While many craft beer fans were justifiably concerned that the world’s largest producer of “macro beer” would destroy these beloved breweries, they have in fact been allowed to operate independently and far exceed their dreams for reaching new levels of innovation with their styles and serving more beer lovers. When we agreed to join AB InBev, we did it so that we could continue our mission with a partner that shares our values about what beer can be. We want to enable tomorrow’s brewers to unleash their creativity, and continue to drive the brewing culture — not only in the United States, but throughout the world.

For our customers, of course we need to continue to earn your trust every day, just as we have since I started this business 23 years ago. Northern Brewer is still dedicated to helping you unleash your creativity and passion for great beer. We know the freshest and most exciting beer you will have this year is probably one that you made yourself. Knowing we will be moving forward in our mission with the proud backing and full support of our partners at AB InBev fills me with tremendous optimism for the future ahead.



Brew. Share. Enjoy Brewery Series Kits

The Brew. Share. Enjoy.® Brewery Edition is unlike anything we have ever created before. For the first time ever, homebrewers like you will have exclusive access to the most sought-after, limited-release beers in the world, complete with first-hand insight from the world-class pro brewmasters who created them.


Short Pour – Pitch Perfect : What’s The Right Amount of Yeast for Your Wine?

Advanced beer brewers routinely make yeast ‘starters’, growing a culture of yeast up from a few hundred million live cells into a powerful, seething mass of hundreds of billions of cells, ready to launch a vigorous, thorough fermentation in their brews.

Step One: Preparation

You’ll Need:

A list or knowledge of your home brewing equipment, ingredients and some sanitizer.


Success, so the saying goes, is 90% preparation and 10% inspiration, and so it is with beer. Brewing beer involves
boiling malt, hops and water to create a grainy, sugary liquid.

Next, we add a fungus – yeast – to the wort, allow for time to pass and we have flat, warm beer.

Finally, we mix this warm, flat beer with a bit of sugar and bottle it, which will result in carbonated beer after a week or

But, let’s step back a moment. We add a fungus? Sure. Yeast is a fungus, a very special fungus, it is the crucial
element to the creation of beer, it is what converts sugars into alcohol. We want to create an environment in which the
yeast is happy; where the yeast is allowed to eat away at sugars without any competition. Competition means the yeast
is unable to produce alcohol and even worse, competition means that some other element has entered our beer.
Chances are this other element is bacteria. Bacteria will create off flavors in beer, beer that tastes, smells or feels
unlike beer should, perhaps a strong smell of vinegar, a taste of cardboard, a viscous feel. Yuck.

To prevent the introduction of such odd elements, we clean and sanitize. It is the most important task of the entire
brewing process. You must clean well everything that your beer may come in contact with, and just before use you
must sanitize this equipment as well. Your brew kettle will not need to be sanitized as the boiling wort will accomplish
this, but you will want the kettle clean.

There are many sanitizing solutions on the market, each with their own direction. Most are quick and easy to use. For
example, Easy Clean: 1-Tablespoon Cleanser per 1-Gallon warm water and 2 minutes of contact time. No rinsing


Sanitizer: Sanitizer keeps your equipment clean and prevents infection.

Brew Kettles: Used for boiling your wort.

Fermentation Vessel: A container used to ferment your beer.

Fermentation Lock: Keeps your beer from being oxidized during fermentation.

Spoon: Used for whirlpooling and helps prevent boilovers.

Hydrometer: Use the hydrometer to figure out your original and final gravity.

Bottles: Once your beer has fermented, bottle it for serving.

Auto Siphon: The auto siphon to transfers beer between fermentation vessels.

Bottle Cappers: An essential piece of equipment, fastens caps to the bottle.

Bottle Caps: We have a variety of closures that work with many different bottles.

Starter Kits: Choose a variety of Starter Kits to begin brewing!


All Northern Brewer Recipe Kits and for that matter nearly all beer will have four basic ingredients: Malt, Hops, Yeast
and water. Don’t be fooled by the length of this list; there is enormous variety within each of these categories, enough
to produce the wondrous array of beers available today, from the palest pilsner to the blackest stout and everything in

Some recipes and kits may also include specialty grains, sugars or spices.

You provide the most basic ingredient for your beer, water. Water chemistry can make a dramatic difference in your
beer, but if your water tastes good to drink, it is fit for brewing.


Beer is brewed by fermenting the sugars of malted barley and other cereal grains. Brewers utilize the process of
malting, wherein seeds are prompted to sprout, after which growth is stopped through kiln drying, to eventually access
these sugars. Malting stimulates amylase enzyme production within the grain. Brewers crush the malted grain and soak
it in hot water in a process known as “mashing.” This activates the enzymes, which convert the grain’s starch into
sugars. These sugars are then rinsed from the grain and the resulting liquid, known as “wort”, is boiled with hops and
other ingredients. After boiling and cooling the wort yeast is added to ferment the substance and produce delicious

Most new brewers prefer not to perform the mashing step themselves. Liquid malt extract and dry malt extract are the
concentrated results of this process, malt sugars that have been produced by mashing and packaged for later use.
Extract brewers then steep a small amount (usually about 1 pound) of specialty grains to provide specific malt flavors
and color in the finished beer.


Hops are the cone-shaped flower of the perennial Humulus lupulus plant. Hops are added to wort to impart a bitterness
perfect to balance the sweetness of malt and to provide a wide variety of flavors and aromas. In addition to the
bittering, flavoring and aromatic qualities that hops bring to beer, they also serve as a stability agent, preventing
spoilage, contribute to head retention and act as a natural clarifier. While the use of hops in brewing is the norm today,
it wasn’t until the eleventh century that hop use was first documented in Germany and not until the sixteenth century
the use of hops became common to British brewers. Prior to this introduction beers were flavored and preserved with
plants such as heather, rosemary, anise, spruce and wormwood; adventurous brewers still use these ingredients today.
Particular hop varieties are often associated with particular beer styles, regions or even a particular brewery’s
signature style. Hops are grown in countless varieties. All hops contain alpha and beta acids, it is these acids that
contribute to the stability and bitterness of the beer.

Hops also contain a host of essential oils which can boil off if added early in the boiling process but which lend
characteristic flavor and aroma when added later in the boil or even after fermentation. Each hop varietal can
contribute dramatically different qualities of bitterness, flavor and aroma to beer. These flavors and aromas are often
described as grassy, floral, citrusy, flowery, spicy, earthy, etc. Hops are often found as pellets, plugs or whole leaf. A
staple of homebrew stores, you can also grow your own!


In 1516, The Reinheitsgebot, or German Beer Purity Law, listed the only allowable ingredients for brewing beer to be
malt, hops and water. As you can see, at one time, yeast was an unknown element, the primary agent of fermentation
being completely mysterious! The Vikings found that if they reused the stick used to stir their beer, it would help start
the next fermentation process. These ‘magic sticks’ were so valuable they were often family heirlooms passed from
generation to generation. In truth we now know that these sticks carried the family yeast culture, the crucial element in
fermenting wort to create beer. Fortunately for German brewers the Reinheitsgebot was amended rightly to include
yeast after the microorganisms were discovered.

There is an old saying: brewers make wort, yeast makes beer.

So just what is yeast?

Yeast is a type of fungus. An organism that reproduces asexually, it is unusual in that it can live with or without oxygen.
In a low oxygen environment yeast cells consume sugars and in return produce carbon dioxide and alcohol as waste
products. This process is fermentation. Yeast is used in making wine, mead and cider as well as beer. Brewing yeast
tends to be classified as either “top fermenting” or “bottom fermenting”. As the names indicate, the yeast strains tend to
be most active towards the top and bottom of the wort respectively, though the cells are dispersed throughout. Top
fermenting yeasts produce an ale style beer, bottom fermenting a lager style beer. These yeast strains are actually two
different species, differentiated by temperature tolerance as well as a few other factors. Ale strains prefer warmer
temperatures while lager strains ferment best at cooler temperatures.

Brewery Edition Kits

The Brew. Share. Enjoy.

Brewery Edition

These ARE the beers you’re looking for.

The Brewery Edition is unlike anything we have ever created before. For the first time ever, homebrewers like you will have exclusive access to the most sought-after, limited-release beers in the world, complete with first-hand insight from the world-class pro brewmasters who created them.

With these kits, you’ll be able to brew the beers that even the most passionate beer lovers in the world can only dream about…tap room exclusives, discontinued recipes and experimental batches that have become the stuff of rare beer legends.

It’s the most intimate brewing experience possible, because you get to appreciate the beer, its history and character, from the inside out. The only thing better would be an all-access brew day at the brewery itself!

Ready to brew with the greats? We created the Brew. Share. Enjoy. Brewery Edition just for you. Cheers!

Brewery Edition Camden Town Flue Faker

No passport required to enjoy this perfectly balanced take on a classic Rauchbier, available only in the UK for a few precious weeks out of the year. We’ve worked directly with Camden Town’s brewmaster and founder, Jasper Cuppaidge, to scale his classic recipe especially for homebrewers…right down to the beechwood-smoked malts sourced directly from Bamberg.

Read More

Brewery Edition #3 Golden Road Heal The Bay IPA

Get ready to make waves. Now you can brew Golden Road’s Heal the Bay IPA – the ultimate SoCal summertime IPA, famous for being crafted in Los Angeles – right in your home!

This authentic beer kit recipe straight from Golden Road’s own award-winning brewmasters has been specially scaled for homebrewing, to retain every heady, hoppy, tropical note of the original, along with the subtle malt signature and distinctive dry, crisp finish that has made Heal the Bay one of Golden Road’s most celebrated beers.

Read More

Brewery Edition #4 Golden Road Wolf Among The Weeds

At 8%, this silent and seductive Wolf will sneak up on you with tropical, citrusy, dank hop notes and a hint of rye. Golden Road’s goal was to showcase the bright, tropical notes of Simcoe, the pine of Chinook, and the slight dankness of CTZ. The result is a complex layering of abundant hop flavors and aromas with an aggressive but pleasantly dry finish.

Read More

Brewery Edition #5 Golden Road Get Up Offa That Brown

A rich English-style Brown Ale with a great malt character, toasty complexity, rich notes of caramel and chocolate…and just enough hops to keep everything in balance.

Read More

Brewery Edition #6 Golden Road Oatmeal Milk Stout

Golden Road wanted to marry the silkiness of an Oatmeal Stout with the subtle sweetness of a Milk Stout, all the while creating an extremely drinkable dark beer at 5.5% ABV. The idea was to create a beautifully balanced stout that would surprise even those who never thought they would enjoy one.

Read More

Brewery Edition #2 Elysian The Wise ESB

In one bold stroke, Elysian both resurrected the traditional English Extra Special Bitter style and reimagined it with a flavor profile born in the heart of America’s Pacific Northwest hops country.

Now – 20 years and three Great American Beer Fest gold medals later — homebrewers everywhere can brew a piece of this history themselves, with Elysian The Wise ESB Brewery Edition Recipe Kit.

Read More

Brewery Edition #1 Goose Island Porter

Our brewmasters partnered with Goose Island Research and Development brewer Tim Faith to craft a homebrewing recipe that perfectly captures the complex flavors and character of the Goose Island original.

The result of that collaboration is an unbelievably memorable brew that evokes the creamy essence of the eggnog cocktail that inspired it, along with notes of milk chocolate, nutmeg and a big, toasty malt backbone. It also conveys the complex flavors of barrel aging that have become a Goose Island trademark…without the barrel aging.

Read More


Short Pour : Epic Game Day Food + Beer Pairings

Get ready for it, this coming Sunday night is Super Bowl LI! Whether your team made it or not, millions will be watching the game. What this really means is lots of beer and even more food! Nachos, wings, and pizza will adorn coffee tables all across America, as well as the obligatory light lagers.

Farley’s Feature – Brewing an Exciting Future

Brewing an Exciting Future

Friends – I started this business 23 years ago this month because of my passion for quality beer and the joy of brewing from my own home. We have seen tremendous growth in homebrewing in that time. Our community continues to expand as does the diversity of quality ingredients and equipment available.

Northern’s family is much bigger today than it was in 1993, but I’m proud to say that we have never lost our identity. Our employees and managers come to work every day with a commitment to be the best in the industry, period. Someday we want homebrewing to be as common a household craft in America as cooking or gardening. But we all know that we won’t get there through complacency.

Many of you have seen the news that we’ve closed a deal to be acquired by ZX Ventures, the global Disruptive Growth Unit of Anheuser-Busch InBev.

I’ll admit, we didn’t share this with you the way we should and for that, I apologize. I think this is a really important moment in our company’s history and an important moment in our shared passion for brewing great beer. Let me tell you what that means.

First, nothing will fundamentally change as the result of this deal. Our entire leadership team will remain intact and our company will continue to be independent. Our staff of dedicated employees will continue to serve our customers and help our industry innovate. Our culture will remain as it is today: vibrant, energetic, fair and dedicated to our mission and to you.

Second, this partnership with ZX Ventures is about growing our company and providing our customers with unparalleled opportunities. This deal will make us stronger and able to pursue our passion with even greater focus, better tools and ingredients.

We are convinced that this partnership will be good for us and great for you. We share the same mission with ZX, to provide “consumers with exceptional beer experiences, anytime, anywhere.” That is, after all, why we’re all here.

This is a really exciting opportunity that doesn’t come around that often. We’re proud of this deal and are excited to begin working with the team from ZX. We’re confident that in time, you will realize just how much we’re going to gain from this partnership and how everyone – you, our company and our community – will be better off because of it.

You have made our community thrive and made our business what it is today. Here’s to more than twenty years of brewing great beer together. Cheers to you and to the future.



Short Pour – Lagers & Lederhosen

The weather is changing, the days are shortening, and one of my favorite beers is finding its way onto the shelves. I don’t just mean the rich caramel flavor of this Märzen style lager, but the 206 year-old celebration itself, Oktoberfest!


Short Pour – To Harvest, or Not To Harvest?

If you’re like me, you get tingles when you think about hop harvest season. Like a helicopter parent, you’ve coddled your backyard hop bines since they were babies, tending to them religiously and watching proudly as they’ve grown over the summer to be 16, 18, perhaps more than 20 feet tall! And now you’re staring at their beautiful cones, just waiting to be lovingly bombed into that IPA recipe you’ve been itching to brew. The time is now! you think to yourself.