If you know me…or if you know this blog, you’re familiar with my “Be Gnarly, Drink Local” motto. I can’t claim to only drink local beer…there is still some other craft beer and even a macro or two that passes my lips from time to time, but I am drinking more local now than I ever would have thought possible when I was wee gnome of 21 trying my first legal beer. The point of it all is that there is a movement going on to start doing things on a micro level. We buy fresh local produce, we shop at “mom and pop” stores again. And we drink beer that is not only made in our city, but often times in our neighborhood as well. I can’t tell you how happy it makes me to set up shop at a table in one of my favorite taprooms and see customer after customer strolling through the doorways with their empty growlers filing them to take home for the weekend, knowing that they are going to be back again, and again with the same routine week after week.
But even inside this micro world of drinking local, things are changing and shifting into some really fun places… This summer I’m going to have a few different posts about this movement by our local breweries to become even more local themselves. The first post (This one…) is about two different businesses that have started feeding off of each other into a local frenzy of sorts.
Great Crescent Brewery is located in Aurora Indiana, which might not be considered local by some people…but I urge you to change that opinion if you hold it. If you haven’t been there recently (or ever) please remember that the little town of Aurora only sits about 30 miles from fountain square which to me makes them local. This post though, isn’t about why you have to sit down on a bar stool at Great Crescents beautiful historic taproom…it’s about their geeky attention to local goodness.
If you have been paying attention to social media you might have seen that recently Great Crescent has teamed up with a farm and malthouse called Sugar Creek to provide malt to the brewery. This move by Great Crescent means that they will be buying all of their base malt currently, and later this summer when Sugar Creek Malt finishes their facilities, specialty and smoked malts as well from a local farm and malt house. This is really fun stuff. As soon as I heard the news I ran home and contacted the wonderful Dan Valas from Great Crescent to hear about some of their future plans for drinking even more local.
It’s hard not to get excited when you hear a brewer talking about the fresh aromas that you get from a grain that is malted and kilned just days before it reaches the brewhouse… and when that same person mentions that you can look forward to seeing a beer brewed this summer possibly that is not only made from fresh locally malted barley and hopped with locally grown hops from the same state but features a fresh hop addition from hops that are grown at the brewery…well… it actually makes my heart beat faster.
Sugar Creek Malt and Great Crescent don’t just care about making their individual products, they actually have a vision of a local community where farmers and brewers can work together to bring fresh local ingredients into the hands (or the glasses) of their fans and customers. This is the kind of stuff that makes me extremely excited to be a part of Cincinnati’s growing beer scene.
Sugar Creek Malt Company
I feel inclined to share with you some of the details about this business. First and foremost…it’s family owned. This is a third generation family farm that’s somewhere around 1400 acres, growing not only corn and similar crops, but with a big crop of brewing grains such as 2-row and 6-row barley, Rye, Wheat, Buckwheat Spelt and Oats. They have also teamed up with 10 other Farmers (one right over here close to Dayton) with all the farms sitting within 200 miles of their malthouse. My understanding of the need for the other farms is not only for more malt…but to protect their malting business from environmental factors such as draught, parasites, fungus…stuff like that. The farm/malthouse is located in Northern Boone County, IN…about 40 miles North of Indianapolis, and features a malthouse that uses traditional floor malting methods to help regulate and watch the entire process of malting.
So… What about the beer?
When can we expect to see some of this beer? The answer is soon…very soon. The first beer that was brewed by Great Crescent using the malt from Sugar Creek is called Aurora Pale Ale and I’m told that it’s an easy drinking pale ale without either a massive, over the top hoppiness, nor an super malty flavor either. It’s hopped with a blend of Aurora, Willamette and Southern Cross hops, which should provide a nice light floral quality to the beer. Aurora Pale Ale is expected to be available in the Great Crescent taproom around the second week in July.
Keep your eyes here, and on the social media accounts of not only Great Crescent, but also your other local breweries. Pay attention to what they are doing because there is some really neat moves like this one that are all attempts at tying communities in with their breweries, and as always…
Be Gnarly, and Keep Drinking Local!