With the first pick, Waterline Brewing Co. out of Wilmington selected honey. And the N.C. Brewers Draft was under way.
The inaugural event was held April 2, when a dozen brewers from around the state packed into Salud Beer Shop to draft ingredients. The beers that will feature those ingredients will be served at the N.C. Brewers Draft Release, held at NoDa Brewing’s original location (2229 N. Davidson St.) from 2-5 p.m. July 10. Tickets for the event are $27.50, which gets attendees a flight of all 12 beers (4-ounce pours of each), a pint of beer, and entry into a raffle to win a beer trip to Prague, Bamberg, Eck and Munich for Oktoberfest this year.
Local homebrewers had participated in a similar event over the past few years, wherein they were tasked with brewing a beer using the ingredients they had drafted. Daan Muller and Joe Domm, members of the Fermentation Nation Brew Club, wanted to host a similar event for professional brewers.
“The inspiration came from a group of us that were doing it on a homebrew level,” he said. “So we said, ‘How can we put this together for a lot of the pro brewers that don’t really get to homebrew like this?’”
And true to the homebrewers’ roots, the event continues with the same fantasy football feel. After Waterline chose honey, a snake draft was underway in which the participating brewers could choose from base malts, specialty malts, hops, adjuncts and a catch all miscellaneous category. Ingredients ran the spectrum from the traditional (German pilsner malt, Summit hops) to anything but (Fun Dip, Pop Rocks and Runts candies).
The challenge for the brewers was to take these ingredients and design a recipe in which they all worked in harmony, even if they would have never chosen to brew a single beer with these ingredients before. Yet even if they did manage to draft ingredients that could work well together, there was one thing they couldn’t account for.
“The wrinkle in the entire draft is that your yeast is picked last randomly,” said Muller.
Four Saints Brewing Co. out of Asheboro successfully managed to draft ingredients that would not be the slightest bit out of place in a stout: coffee, cocoa nibs, oats, and some additional hops and grains. But drawn for them at the end was a French Saison yeast that contributes notes of black pepper and spice. Depending on how the brewers build the beer, it could be dubbed a black saison or a Belgian stout.
Brewers from the participating breweries will be on hand for the release on Sunday, July 10. Those 12 breweries include:
- Appalachian Mountain Brewery and Cidery (Boone)
- Burial Beer Co. (Asheville)
- Four Saints Brewing Co. (Asheboro)
- Fortnight Brewing Co. (Cary)
- Heist Brewery (Charlotte)
- Mystery Brewing Co. (Hillsborough)
- NoDa Brewing (subbed for Sycamore Brewing and will use their chosen ingredients)
- The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery (Charlotte)
- Salud Beer Shop (Charlotte)
- Triple C Brewing (Charlotte)
- The Unknown Brewing Co. (Charlotte)
- Waterline Brewing Co. (Wilmington)
You can find some of the beers that will be poured at the Facebook event page for the 2016 N.C. Brewers Draft Release. Tickets for the event, which benefits Pints for Prostates, can be purchased here. The event is limited to just 160 tickets.
No draft would be complete without some post-draft grades to determine the winner, of course. In this case, there will be a trophy given out to the Judge’s Choice and a “WCW-style” belt for the People’s Champion. And yes, this will determine the order of the 2017 draft.
“Next year it’ll be so much fun for those guys to roll into the draft with a championship belt and playing their music,” said Muller. “They’ll get first pick of the draft and a trophy they can hang up in the taproom.”
Photos: Daan Muller