July 28, 2011

Whitsett, NC - Red Oak Brewery

Speaking of fresh, let's talk about Red Oak Brewery in North Carolina, my next stop after visiting Sweetwater Brewery in Atlanta.  Situated on I-85/40 between Greensboro and Chapel Hill, Red Oak is all about the fresh, Bavarian-style beer.  They adhere strictly to the German Purity Law of 1516 (aka Reinheitsgebot), which mandated that all beer made in Germany could only be made using barley, water, and noble hops (yeast hadn't been discovered yet).  Red Oak brews three varieties of unfiltered, unpasteurized lager:
  • Hummin' Bird - the lightest option, made with Pilsener malts and Tettnang hops
  • Red Oak Amber - their flagship, brewed with Munich malts and Spalt hops
  • Battlefield Bock - Red Oak's darkest beer, made using Dark Roasted malts and Czech Saaz hops
After sampling all three, I couldn't resist the chance to buy a growler of the Battlefield Bock.  Having just bought one, I didn't really need another growler, but the smooth coffee and chocolate flavors were right up my alley.  I guess I'm just destined for a growler collection.

While sampling the brews, a helpful employee gave us some history on Red Oak.  What made the biggest impression on me was Red Oak's commitment to doing one thing well.  They're not trying to be the next international brewing conglomerate.  Of course, because of state regulations Red Oak is only available in North Carolina.  See, if they brew more than 25,000 barrels of beer, state law requires that distribution be handed over to another party.  So Red Oak is going to hang right around 24,999 barrels a year and distribute their own product, thank you very much.  That way, they can make sure their beer gets where it needs to be in the proper condition.  I must say I respect Red Oak for sticking to their guns while they battle over the status quo.  With a number of breweries (like this one) selling out to the majors, Red Oak's calculated decision to limit production for the sake of their craft is to be appreciated.

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