Did you know there’s a beer club out there putting a spotlight on homebrewer’s best creations? Meet Noble Brewer, an Oakland, California based company with a mission sharing “high quality, single-release beers inspired by our homebrewers’ very best recipes” on a quarterly basis. Doing something like this is pretty tricky, partially due to laws that prohibit amateur brewers from selling the beer they make. How do they do it? I talked to Claude Burns, the Founder of Noble Brewer about finding the very best homebrew beer and sharing it with the masses.
Why start a beer club with a focus on home brewing?
We wanted to give great homebrewers a legal way to share their beer without dealing with the regulatory barriers. The regulations around alcohol are crazy and there’s not a great way to do something on a small scale without committing to launching a company. Homebrewers are making great beers so why not find a way so that craft beer lovers could enjoy them and learn about their beer in a very personal and meaningful way? Ultimately, Noble Brewer is about connecting craft beer lovers and homebrewers through the product they are both extremely passionate about, beer.
It’s against the law to sell beer brewed at home. How are you doing it?
It is 100% against the law to sell homebrew. We make it work by partnering our homebrewers with professional breweries to produce the homebrewers beer. Since it’s produced in a professional brewery and all the regulations are met and taxes paid, the government is happy. We didn’t set out to change the laws, as that would be a long process, we just worked withing the existing regulations, though figuring out how to do that took several months.
What are you looking for in a beer you’ll feature through Noble Brewer?
We look for homebrewers first as we feel beer is about people. So to start, we look for homebrewers that have won awards in homebrewing competitions as a measure of quality. Then we look to see if they are willing to share their story so we can provide our members that indepth personal experience that they expect from us and what makes us different from another beer club or beer company. Lastly, we check to make sure the beer can be replicated on a commercial scale. As a homebrewer you can use some pretty unique techniques that a pro brewer can’t do because of the scale.
What is different about a homebrew once you upscale a beer with your partner brewery?
It isn’t technically homebrew anymore as it’s made in a professional brewery. Other than that, it’s the same. It’s the same ingredients, it’s the same processes, it’s the product of the same experimentation the homebrewer did to bring the recipe to that point. It’s just met regulatory standards to make it legal to sell.
Does it taste the same after going through the upscaling process?
We capture the essence of what the homebrewers create at home. In one case, one of the brewers said that the beer was exactly what they wanted and probably better than the version they themselves have created. Part of the fun of small batch craft beer is the fact that batch to batch there are inconsistencies that come through so no beer is perfectly replicated even in commercial breweries. Not being the exactly same doesn’t mean it’s worse, it just means it’s different.
That being said, we do everything we can to replicate that essence including using very expensive hard to find ingredients and techniques that aren’t necessarily cost efficient to get as close as possible.
Are there any types of beers that you hope to offer through Noble Brewer in the future that might surprise people?
We’ll do some styles that aren’t very popular commercially but are still great beers. One example we’re looking at is a Roggenbier, you probably won’t find it at many beer stores, but it’s a style we think would be fun to make as we could tell the story of the beer’s origins as well. As we grow, we want the community to help us choose some styles they find interesting but sours, barrel aged beers aren’t out of the question.
The biggest surprise we’re working on is featuring a home cider maker. It’s a hopped cider that smells just like an IPA and has a very dry finish so it’s not one of those sweet mass produced ciders you usually find on the market. It will probably be released as a one-off but I’m pretty excited about it.
Learn more about Noble Brewer, join the club or even submit your own beer at NobleBrewer.com