Ben Woodward at Haw River Farmhouse Ales spent more than a year cultivating a secret ingredient for his beers – a wild yeast he captured underneath a fig tree on a hill near the brewery’s forthcoming home in Saxapahaw.
The native yeast produced flavors and qualities that allow Haw River to make its Belgian-styled beers unlike any others. Think of it like a pitmaster’s special barbecue sauce recipe, the one with those unknown spices that draws enthusiasts from across the land.
But a few months ago, Woodward took a chance many would consider unthinkable – he gave away his secret. “We don’t have any secrets, I guess,” he said with a chuckle during a recent interview. Woodward isn’t afraid to take chances. Collecting native yeast is a growing trend in the industry and one that fits Woodward’s brewery in particular. Read this week's full Pintful column here.