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Pintful: A wild yeast gives Haw River's farmhouse ales a special taste

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.

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