Stable Craft’s Brewing Process: A Labor of Love

Malted barley waiting for the mill.

Stable Craft Brewing just expanded its market by over 50% and can now be found in a local Virginia retailer near you. Take a look behind the scenes, as we talk about our brewing process.

Craft breweries are incredibly popular, especially in Virginia, but few may know the actual extent of what it takes to make beer. Fortunately, Chris Fann, head brewer at Stable Craft Brewing, possesses a wealth of knowledge and is willing to share it.

Fann has been the head brewer at Stable Craft for over a year, but his experience in the industry goes back almost five years. He started by cleaning kegs and worked his way up to brewing beer. Fann now makes all of the recipes for Stable Craft, which has 16 beers on tap in the brewery’s tasting room with a new small batch release every other week. These beers are also available in restaurants, bars and taverns and, just recently, in bottles at grocery and convenience stores.

Chris Fann starts the brewing process off by measuring out various malts and adding them to mill.

Chris Fann adding various malts to the mill.

I like tasting the nuisances in craft beer and then creating those nuisances myself, Fann said.

The brewing process starts at Stable Craft when Fann and Issac Peglow, assistant brewer, fill the mash tun, a device used to convert starches from crushed grains into sugars for fermentation, with water being added until the water level in the machine is above its false bottom. Once the false bottom is covered, Fann adds malt to the mill.

Malt is a germinated cereal grain that has been dried. The specific type of malt used in the brewery’s Appalachian Divide, an easy drinking ale, is sour malt.

The mash tun – hot water is added to the malts here.

As the malt enters the mash tun, it is sprayed with water via the mash hydrator. Fortunately, Stable Craft operates on well water and is not required to go through the extra steps city water requires, such as chloride filtration.

The mash rake, which looks like an enormous fork, rotates in a perfect circle to mix the grain evenly in the mash tun. The rake prevents “dough balls” that could otherwise form, Fann said.

Once mashing is finished, the brewer rests the product for 20 minutes before moving onto the next stage, known as vorlauf. Vorlauf is when the wort, or liquid extracted from mashing, is clarified. In practice, vorlauf simply looks like the mixture is recirculated with the mash rake.

After vorlauf, the next stage of brewing is sparging, and it takes about an hour and a half to sparge the beer. For sparging, water is added to the top of the grain bed, and, subsequently, the wort is gravity fed into the kettle. The brewer adds hops to the mash in the kettle.

Katherine Hensley taking notes on the brewing process.

Ten minutes before the boil is complete in the kettle, Fann also adds a yeast nutrient and Whirlfloc, an Irish moss blend, which acts as a kettle fining agent by pulling trub, or unwanted sediment, to the bottom of the kettle.

The mixture goes through a 10-minute whirlpool after boiling. This is when the Whirlfloc does its job and pulls unwanted materials to the bottom of the kettle. The mixture rests for 20 minutes after the whirlpool.

Between boiling and fermentation, Fann runs hot water to sanitize the heat exchanger. The fermentation tanks have already been sanitized beforehand and are ready to go. A blow-off tube is placed in a bucket filled with water beside the fermentation tank for the carbon dioxide given off by the yeast during the fermentation process.

The wort is pumped from the bottom of the kettle into the heat exchanger and then, lastly, into the fermentation tank. Fermentation takes about a week for Appalachian Divide. During this time, the yeast will convert the sugars in the wort to alcohol and carbon dioxide.

After fermentation, Appalachian Divide is filtered and moved into a bright beer tank where it stays for about a day. The level of carbon dioxide is adjusted in the bright beer tank with a carbonation stone.

The final step is bottling or kegging Appalachian Divide and distributing it to Virginia’s craft beer drinkers.

appalachian Divide

The finished product, ready to enjoy.


Craft Beer Lineup Series: Throatlach Imperial IPA

West Coast flavor with an East Coast Twist.

throatlatch Imperial IPA

This Imperial IPA is bigger and bolder than your average IPA. It has a complex citrusy flavor that is loaded with hops. The throatlatch IPA is the last, but certainly not the least, of our four main beers. The name “Throatlatch” is a noun inspired by a strap of a bridle or halter passing under the horse’s throat. With an 8.5% ABV, this beer is certainly big and bold. It has a complex nose and an impressive citrus, rounding out to a sweetness and caramel bite. This beer has something for everyone as it is incredibly hoppy but also gives off hints of sweet caramel malts.

As far as pairing, we suggest trying the Throatlatch with the hop trellis wrap. This wrap contains crispy bacon, chipotle peach BBQ, goat cheese & mixed greens. Imperial IPA’s are notorious for being paired with pungent cheeses, such as blue cheese or goat, making this wrap the perfect match for this crisp and hoppy beer. Grilled meats and saucy barbecues also make for great additions to any imperial IPA. For the last day of national craft beer week, we will feature the Blueberry Blonde made with fresh blueberries, stay posted!


Craft Beer Lineup Series: Nightlatch American Stout

Tiramasu in a Glass

Cheers to farm fresh beers! Today’s craft beer spotlight is on the Nightlatch American Stout. Fun fact: Nightlatch is a noun, meaning a door locking having a spring bolt operated from outside by key. Being the third featured beer in our series, the Night Latch exhibits a strong body and presence with 6.6% ABV. This creamy stout is big on flavor! It is sensible and well balanced, with a roasty, soft chocolate finish.

On our menu, the Nightlatch is comparable to the Whoa Bucker Oatmeal stout due to the roasted coffee and chocolate notes, however, the Nightlatch is a bit sweeter. We suggest pairing the Nightlatch with our brewer’s grain brownie, which is made with the leftover Nightlatch grain making this a killer combo for anyone with a sweet tooth. Stay tuned for our next entry on the Throatlatch Imperial IPA, for the fourth of the craft beer spotlight series!


DUDE WHERE’S OUR VAN! Selfie Photo Contest

Stable Craft Brewing Van

Spring has sprung and the first Stable Craft Brewing photo contest has just begun!!!!

“Whoever said craft beer can’t buy happiness, simply didn’t know where to drink! Stable Craft Brewing and Blue Ridge Beverage are out on the open road working hard to bring our Farm Fresh Beers to your home and local bar! Have you seen us? Prove it! We are excited to introduce our first ‘Dude Where’s our Van’ Photo Contest. Enter now to win 1 of 10 fun prize packages, worth more than $50 each!
Stable Craft Brewing has just finished wrapping Blue Ridge Beverages third distribution van with our fun logo and slogans! Next time you see our van take a picture and share!

To enter Stable Craft Brewing ‘Dude Where’s our Van’ photo contest please complete the following steps:

1) Follow @stablecraftbrewing and stable_craft_brewing on Facebook and Instagram
2) Post a selfie photo of the Stable Craft Brewing van with the hashtag #dudewheresourvan and #stablecraftbrewing
3) Tag @stablecraftbrewing and stable_craft_brewing in the photo and share where you saw our van

The follower with the best photo, most likes and shares in a week wins!
We will select the winner of best picture with most likes every Thursday via Facebook & Instagram starting April 5, 2017 – June 1, 2017.

Please don’t drive and photo! Winners must pick up prizes within two weeks of announcement on Wednesday & Thursdays only! A new winner will be chosen each week! No purchase necessary to play, you gotta play to win!
That’s’ a wrap!!

*** Please remember you must follow @stablecraftbrewing in the loop to qualify. All entries must be submitted by Wednesday night by 11:59pm EST. We ask that private accounts are made public during the giveaway in order to be entered. The winner will be announced on Thursdays at 4pm, we appreciate your patience while we verify all the entries. Good luck!

Per Instagram rules, we must mention this is in no way sponsored, administered, or associated with Instagram, Inc. By entering, entrants confirm they are 21+ years of age, release Instagram of responsibility, and agree to Instagram’s term of use.”

Stable Craft Brewing completely releases Instagram by each entrant and participant. Stable Craft Brewing understands that this promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Instagram. Stable Craft Brewing understands by using Instagram & Facebook to administer the ‘Dude Where’s our Van promotion we do so at our own risk. ***