Brewer Bytes With NoDa Brewing Co.
An Interview With Chad Henderson, Head Brewer
Posted on 11/20/2012 by Chops
The craft beer scene in North Carolina is one of the most vibrant in the country. It's easy to understand why this state has become a major craft beer destination. It houses some of the finest breweries in the country and offers a comradery that is second to none. The NoDa Brewing Company opened its doors on October 29, 2011 and immediately added a lively punch to the region. They even brought home a medal from the 2012 Great American Beer Fest (GABF). Now that's what I can an awesome introduction! Fresh off of his impressive win, Head Brewer Chad Henderson was kind enough to offer up some Brewer Bytes.

What is your favorite beer or style to brew?

I personally love brewing Belgian strong ales of all varieties. They are a style that can allow you to add just about anything to them to make them unique but ultimately they are an expression of the yeast. They develop very unique flavors from different conditions in fermentation and age well over time.

What is the most challenging beer for you to brew?

The hardest beer I've had to brew was Gordgeous, our Pumpkin ale. The beer was challenging mostly from the large amount of unique ingredients, specifically the 155 lbs of canned organic pumpkin that we then candied and roasted with 40 lbs of brown sugar. The roasting itself was long and difficult but having to pull that massive amount of dead weight out of boiling wort was a whole new story. Each of the three mesh bags that held the pumpkin gained significant weight due to absorbing the wort so they were even heavier than before and also required me squeezing them out one at a time. I nearly fell in on the last bag but luckily my face caught me on the man-way so no harm done to anything useful at least.

What inspired you to get into brewing?

I always had a passion for high detail; whether it be in music, art, food, or in drink and I fell in love with the complexity and diversity that could be expressed in beer. I began my craft beer advocacy after trying diverse craft beer from specialty stores and basically grabbed anything that I saw recommended online or from the craft beer enthusiast in the area. Before long I was making my own recipes and never looked back. I love the concept that someone can take an idea as simple as steeping grain in hot water and allowing yeast to eat it to make alcohol has evolved into a huge mix of approaches that range from highly refined and traditional to completely nontraditional brews that use anything that you wouldn't normally expect in a beer.

How do you feel about reviewing and its impact on the industry?

I love the concept of mass based reviews that any consumer can post. These sites and reviews are what allowed me to seek out special brews when I first got into craft beer and added a whole new level of excitement when finding something that I had read about online with rave reviews. I believe one of the main forces behind the rise of craft beer appreciation and growth, especially in states that are not historically considered craft beer friendly, is the advancements recently in web based information. The reviews and blogs online from someone across the country or world could be read by anyone and be used as factor in deciding whether or not to seek out that particular beer/brewery.

What's the best thing about being in the beer industry?

I've said it many times before, the one thing that ultimately draws people in to the craft beer industry is not necessarily the beer but the community around it. I love being a part of the craft beer family and the industry members and the consumers all populate this craft beer world with a level of support that I've never seen in any other industry.

What advice would you give to a new home brewer?

Talk to everyone that's been doing it longer than you. There are many ways to accomplish the same goals in brewing and the more ideas and perspectives you have on them the more informed of a decision you can make. Also read and highlight books for homebrewing. There's nothing wrong with having stacks of referenceable material next to you as you brew. And finally, stretch beyond pre-made recipes or copies done online. I've seen so many people not remember what they did in their brews simply because they followed the recipe that someone else made. I never did a pre-made recipe during my whole time homebrewing and felt like I grew much faster from creating my own recipes and learning from their outcomes.

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Chad Henderson, Head Brewer at the NoDa Brewing Company
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