Overview & Process
Hops are a perennial crop that grow on a vine. Most of the hops used by brewers in the United States are grown in the Pacific Northwest. Some would argue (Europeans mostly) that the best hops are grown in Europe. However, the American Hop Industry has come a long way in the past twenty years with the growth of microbreweries. It will be our philosophy to buy American materials whenever possible. In culinary terms, hops are your spices when brewing. Brewers add the flower of the female hop plant to the “Boiling Kettle” to extract its bittering and aromatic properties. Hop flavor and aroma characteristics are often described as spicy, earthy, or floral depending on the variety and growing region.
Malt is where most of the flavor and sugars will be derived from. You can get malt in grain form or get malt extracts in dry or liquid form. At Quest, we only use malt in grain form. The malting process consists of wetting the grain and allowing it to germinate. During the germination, some of the starches in the grain get converted to sugars while others become simple soluble starches and other enzymes. The grain is then dried and tumbled to knock the beginnings of roots off. The grain is then kilned to dry it thoroughly and carmelize some of the sugars like in crystal malt or blacken it like a black patent malt. The malt is now ready to be made into young beer.
Quest uses locally harvested malt whenever possible. One such malt house we use is located in nearby Asheville, NC: Riverbend Malt House. We see the need for locally grown malt to increase in the future and create a new cash crop for the South.
Quest will produce tons of spent mash every week. Spent mash is the leftover grain after we have extracted the sugars needed for fermentation. We offer this to local farmers and Clemson’s Agricultural Dept. as an alternative to the high cost of feed such as soybean meal or corn. These feeds can cost over 10 times as much! It is high in protein, fiber, and contains almost as much energy as corn silage. The livestock LOVE it! This is our way of helping out the local agricultural industry as well as reducing the amount of waste we send to the landfill.