Brent Manning is a maltster on a mission. The co-founder of Riverbend Malt House in Asheville, N.C., wants people to be able to taste local grains in North Carolina's beers, just as vino aficionados can identify the provenance of fine wines.
"In the wine industry ... they will tell you that the No. 1 Syrah grape grows on this hillside over here because it's a bit rockier," Manning explains. "It's that very same connection to the soil and the underlying geology that creates these nuances in flavors."
Rep. Kevin Priola, R-Henderson, had hoped that his beer bill this year would ferment into a balanced approach to allow full-strength craft beer in supermarkets and convenience stores, while expanding the number of liquor licenses allowed.
Yeast can be pretty demanding little buggers, despite being unicellular microscopic organisms. Brewers know they must appease them to get the beer they want.
"It's yeast-strain dependent, it's environment, it's temperature, oxygen levels," says Matt Brophy, brewmaster of Flying Dog Brewery in Frederick, Md. "There's a lot of variables that you need to have a high level of control over."
As beer drinkers demand increasingly obscure beers with ingredients like jalapenos or rhubarb, smaller and smaller breweries are stepping up to the plate. New Hampshire is one state helping these brewery startups get off the ground, with new laws that make it easier for small-scale breweries to obtain licenses and distribute their craft beers.
Anyone who gives up gluten, either by choice or medical necessity, will inevitably feel a twinge of regret bidding adieu to bread, pasta or pastries. But for some, the greatest hardship may be saying no to beer — especially at times like Super Bowl Sunday, when having a cold one in hand is part of many people's game day tradition.
So it's no small thing that a growing number of brewers are offering gluten-free beers that are both tasty and satisfying.