GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Talk about being late to the party … it seems people have been brewing beer in some form for 8,000 years.
“Back in ancient Egypt they made a fermented beer out of ancient grain,” said Stephen Monaghan, who knows a thing or two about beer. Some of it was by accident – leaving barley loaves out in the rain that had things like honey or dates in them that could ferment, making the bread … "drunk."
But a few years ago, my wife gave me a home brewing kit and I was off, trying to recreate, at home, some of my favorite beers I’d have at the pub, after a soccer match with my teammates.
Monaghan came to it more directly.
“I was working at a home brew shop for store credit and employee discount. I decided then and there that's what I wanted to do as a career,” Monaghan said.
But his distribution method wasn’t as profitable at the beginning.
“My favorite part about brewing was being able to share it with all my friends and family,” he says, and now that he’s figured out how to make a little money brewing beer at Little Brother Brewing in downtown Greensboro, he can afford to share the odd pint when it makes sense.
For me, it’s all about the sharing (since I have a day job that Monaghan has yet to encourage me to leave) so when he and Little Brother offered to allow me to be the December version of their home brewing spotlight, I jumped at it.
“The home brewing spotlight is basically our way to reach out the home brewing community and try to bring them to what we do here,” Monaghan said.
So, since it was December, we decided to do a Christmas ale. That means some roasted malt – we’re using one called “Ruby” from a craft malt company named Epiphany in Durham – and some winter spices. I chose cinnamon, clove and ginger root – all also locally sourced. Add in more than 30 pounds of Centennial and Warrior hops and you have a winter ale not like what you typically see.
We think what we produced is exceedingly drinkable. It’s not as sweet as most winter ales, has a little more hop front but won’t make you feel as if you’ve been chewing hops all night. It’s a bit of one-off fun we called “Live From the North Pole.” (See what we did, there?)
Check out the process, in this edition of the Buckley Report.