Chris Farley – Founder of Northern Brewer – writes about brewing ingredients, developing new products, homebrew techniques, and more.
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.
Farley’s Feature – All Grain Myths
Rather than using malt extract, you can make beer exactly the way breweries do. Start with crushed grain, add some hot water, and make your own sweet wort – all by harnessing the power of science. Some of us rush headlong into it, others meticulously research before jumping in. Nevertheless, I thought it would be fun to share with you, faithful readers, some of the myths about All-Grain brewing.
MYTH #1: ALL-GRAIN BREWING IS HARD
Anything is hard if you don’t know what you’re doing! Thankfully, there are more resources available to help you make the leap than ever before including homebrewing forums (like The Northern Brewer Homebrewing Forum) and videos. Seeing the process, particularly in a video, makes the process really easy to understand.
MYTH #2: ALL-GRAIN BREWING IS EXPENSIVE
Well, it’s true you will need to add some key elements to your brewery. A large kettle ($100-$300), a wort chiller ($60), and a mashing system ($249). But once you’ve built out your brewery, each batch of beer costs less.
MYTH #3: ALL-GRAIN BREWING TAKES A LONG TIME
While it is true that All-Grain brew days are longer from start to finish (you’re looking at 4-6 hours instead of 2), the dirty little secret is that most of that time is spent sitting around and waiting. While your beer is mashing (60-90 minutes), you can be doing chores, running errands, watching football, reading Dostoevsky… whatever!
MYTH #4: ALL-GRAIN BREWING IS SEXY
Okay, this one is true.
MYTH #5: ALL-GRAIN BREWING MAKES BETTER BEER
Not always. If you’ve judged homebrewing contests, you may have had that not-uncommon experience where the best beer in the flight is an extract beer. What All-Grain does give you is a lot more control over the process, and the precise mix of grain that goes into making your wort. Plus there are certain techniques (decoction mashing, first wort hopping, mash hopping) that can only be done with All-Grain.
Prior to the current craft beer explosion, innovation was anathema to fans of great beer. Innovation meant Miller Clear Beer and Bud Dry (why ask why?). Real beer was not innovative, it was traditional.
As homebrewers, most of us have a deep understanding of the level of skill and care that goes into making a well-crafted beer. But not everyone realizes that this attention to detail and love of craft extends to the so called “raw materials” that are used to produce beer. And ultimately, no ingredient is more painstakingly crafted than the malt that we use to make our beer.
For about fifty years following the end of the second world war, Americans were terrified of hops. Our national beer was a light lager that had almost no perceptible hops in it.