Posts Tagged ‘tours’

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Red Oak brewery in Whitsett, N.C. bottles local flavor, best served cold

May 8, 2009

Jessica L. Dexheimer

May 7, 2009

Generally, students enjoying a beer at one of Elon’s local bars rarely stop to consider what they’re drinking, where it came from or what exactly is in it. For those students who choose Red Oak beer, brew master Chris Buchman has good news.

Red Oak Brewery is located in Whitsett, N.C.

Red Oak Brewery is located in Whitsett, N.C.

 

“In moderation, our beer is good for you,” he said. “It has healthful minerals in it naturally, and hops actually have some antibacterial properties. One beer a day is better than no beer, and two beers a day is better than one. But past that, you really have to exercise self-control.” 

Buchman is one of the master brewers at Red Oak Brewery, located about 15 minutes from Elon University in Whitsett, N.C. The brewery is known for three beers; it’s signature Red Oak, Hummingbird and Battlefield Bock. 

The Whitsett location was opened in 2007, but Red Oak beer has been a North Carolina favorite for much longer. Red Oak originally started as a restaurant and pub near Guilford College, but soon expanded to include six locations across North Carolina. In 2001, the owners decided to focus solely on their passion – beer – and opened a large-scale brewery in Greensboro. The Whitsett location was built when the company outgrew the Greensboro plant.

The Whitsett location opened in 2007 after the brewery outgrew it's previous Greensboro facility.

The Whitsett location opened in 2007 after the brewery outgrew it's previous Greensboro facility.

What sets Red Oak apart from other breweries is their strict adherence to the 1516 Purity Law. The Law, written in Germany, states that the only ingredients in beer should be barley, hops and water. However, Buchman explains that the beer’s flavor can be altered by using different types of barley and hops, or by cooking the grains for different lengths of time. 

“A lot of beer companies use corn or rice to make beer because that’s cheaper than barley, but it creates a sub-par beer,” explained Buchman. “Then, they have to use additives and flavors to make something worth selling. We don’t use corn. We don’t use rice. We feel strongly that good beer doesn’t need extra flavors.”

Because the Law of Purity doesn’t allow for any pasteurization, all Red Oak beer is packaged immediately after brewing and shipped as soon as possible to local bars and restaurants. Buchman advises treating the beer like a dairy product, keeping it cool and consuming it as soon as possible. For now, Red Oak only has the resources to distribute their beers to the local North Carolina community.

“Our whole philosophy is bringing fresh beer to small territories right around the brewery,” said Buchman. “It’s an old school philosophy, but it works for us.” 

By September, he says, the brewery would like to purchase the technology to bottle their beer in a single-serve can or bottle to be sold in grocery stores. For now, their beers are only available in half-gallon growlers, kegs or on tap at a variety of local restaurants. 

From barley to beer

Every Friday, Buchman leads groups of beer enthusiasts on a tour of the Whitsett brewery. For a fee of $5, guests can see where the grains are stored, how the barley is cooked and see the 400-gallon tubs used to brew the beer. The 30-minute tour concludes with complimentary samples of Red Oak’s three beers.

Buchman describes the namesake Red Oak brew as a “traditional, old style lager” with a crisp taste. The Hummingbird brew is lighter and crisp, with a sweet after taste. The final beer, Battlefield Bock, is smooth and dark and

Chris Buchman attended brewery school in Germany, and is now a master brewer for Red Oak. Every Friday, he leads groups on tours of the Red Oak facilities.

Chris Buchman attended brewery school in Germany, and is now a master brewer for Red Oak. Every Friday, he leads groups on tours of the Red Oak facilities.

reminiscent of black coffee. 

 

“Treat beer drinking just like wine tasting,” Buchman advises. “You want to start with the lightest beer, then work your way to something heavier.” 

He adds that the namesake lager is the most popular product, and is a hit in the local community.

“Wherever we sell our beer, Red Oak quickly becomes one of the top three most popular brews,” he said. “It’s just a testament to our quality.”

 

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