USA, NC: Sideways Farm and Brewery to be one of the few farm breweries in Western North Carolina
A new brewery opening in Etowah is taking a sideways approach to modern beer-making, BlueRidgeNow.com reported on October 4.
Sideways Farm and Brewery, on Eade Road off Old Highway 64, is going back to the roots of craft beer. Reflective of Etowahs rural setting, it will be one of the few farm breweries in Western North Carolina.
Owners Jon and Carrieann Schneider are building a 2,400-square-foot brewhouse on the 11-acre farm they live on, one of Etowahs oldest historical farmlands. The Schneiders goal is to take beer back to time before industrial agriculture and mega-global corporations, using hyperlocal ingredients.
Were kind of taking it back to what we have available to us, said Jon. The hops that we have available to us, the herbs that we have.
The Schneiders love of craft beer-making began like most. Several years ago Carrieann purchased a homebrew kit for her husband. Jon, an engineer by trade, delved into the research of craft beer making and caught the bug.
The couple started from their home in Florida with the idea of something bigger and different for beer and community. After vacationing in Brevard, they fell in love with the area as well as the local food movement.
Trying to escape the cutthroat beer scene in Florida, the Schneiders made the move to Etowah three years ago, in large part because of the community. Here, the breweries and flower farmers help each other with just about everything, they said.
The beers will be seasonally based, crafted in small batches and based on the materials they currently have at the farm. The beer will not be kegged. Everything will be bottled in 750ml bottles, unfiltered.
Among the many heirloom vegetable and herbs growing on the farm include barley, hops, basils, squash and zucchini. What they cant grow they will source locally, such as malt from Riverbend Malt House.
Carrieann said their farming process goes beyond organic. Their goal is to leave more organisms in the ground after harvest than they started with no pesticides or herbicides.
Jon said beer today is brewed based off old laws that were put in place in Europe for taxation purposes and similar reasons throughout time. This has put limitations on the creativity that one can have in brewing.
If you look at how the brewers actually brewed back then before those (rules), it was going out into the garden and picking out things and trying to find something to flavor, bitter the beer, because hops werent typically used, said Jon. So they had a lot more leeway in what they could do.
Jons latest beer, made with Thai basil, squash, zucchini and Celtic sea salt, serves as an example for what the Schneiders have in mind.
The ingredients are fun, said Jon. Its like cooking. Its trying to come up with flavor combinations that will work in a beer that you have available to you.
His pale ale, we could have that on tap, said Carrieann But we could have that on tap with a lemongrass and lavender or blueberry or blackberry so that way you can taste the unique ingredients, taste the base beer and then taste these different ingredients from the farm and see how everything is affected.
The Schneiders said a lot of people have forgotten that beer is a farm product, made with ingredients grown on a farm.
There are so many breweries in industrial areas, Carrieann said. When you go to a winery its generally out in the country, youve got the vineyard right there, so theres a little bit more connection with the wine and the land. With beer I think weve just really forgotten that, and we want to kind of bring that back.
The brewhouse/taproom is currently under construction. The metal building, featuring French doors and large windows to allow in light, will be softened with reclaimed wood from around the farm. A portion of the building will house a three-and-a-half barrel system with room to expand to a seven-barrel system.
Inside will be a tasting island, based off Burntshirt Vineyards, which will allow people to communicate with everyone rather than the standard bar setting where one can only talk to the person left or right of them.
Were going to run the tastings very similar to how a winery does where youll be able to walk through the tastings, said Jon. So youre not getting a flight of beers that you hope that the bartender got in the right order; youre actually going to walk through it with somebody knowledgeable.
There will be another bar area where people will be allowed to buy a bottle or multiple bottles, as well as an outdoor deck that will surround most of the building, offering scenic views of the farm.
A corncrib dating more than 150 years old sits in the pasture leaning sideways, barely held together by a tree growing through the center of it. Its the inspiration for their name and logo and will eventually be used as the facade of the new brewery.
The couple is planning to, very selectively, sell their beer to local bottle shops and farm-to-table restaurants, but the bulk will be sold out of the brewery.
Carrieann said they are looking to mimic the community-supported agriculture movement where people purchase a share from a farmer before the season and in return receive produce. Only instead it would be community-supported beer, where the beer is purchased ahead of time. This would guarantee a supply of seasonal beers produced in small quantities.
The brewing equipment was set to be delivered next week before the Schneiders got the bad news that the manufacturer they bought their equipment from went out of business, leaving the couple out of the money they spent on it. Now theyre starting from scratch, looking at U.S. manufacturers.
Initially the brewery was set to open during the fall, but because of the setbacks theyre hoping to open sometime this winter.
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