Last month I was invited to bring my camera and curiosity over to Currahee Brewing Company to hangout as they mashed-in this season’s Kawi Coffee Milk Stout. I was interested in seeing their set-up and getting to know their brewmaster, Taylor Yates.
Taylor got his start in the brewing industry in Georgia. He had been brewing at home for awhile when a friend asked if he was interested in brewing on a professional level. He accepted and learned all about the red-tape of a start-up as they opened Georgia’s first nanobrewery, Burnt Hickory Brewing in Kennesaw. From there he headed to Moon River Brewing in Savannah, GA where he was instrumental in their change from English yeast strains to American yeast strains allowing them to make some of the great American pales and IPAs. Lucky for us here in western NC, the state of Georgia couldn’t keep him.
My visit started at the top of the brewing process. We started talking about the beer and the brewery while the mash tank was filling with hot water. Taylor is very passionate about what he does and is so full of knowledge that I almost couldn’t keep up! The first thing I noticed was something on the side of the tank that looked like a massive sight glass. It’s called a lauter grant. It allows you to see the runnings of what is being brewed. It started out full of water. Then the malts were added and it started clouding up. When the coffee was added it slowly started to darken and slowly I began to see the color of the Kawi itself. So cool. I love learning new stuff. Of all the breweries I have visited, this was my first time seeing one of these devices. Why doesn’t everyone have one!!??
Currahee cares about the ingredients. They know where the coffee comes from. They mill their own malts. Taylor spoke passionately about every detail of brewing beer. Aside from quality of ingredients, we talked about wood, barrels, and the aging process. He has a lot of plans for barrel-aged beers and has already made some really tasty ones. I’m excited to hear there will be more. The Cuvee that was bottled for Currahee’s one year anniversary was a blend of whiskey barrel-aged stout and a dark ale aged with wild yeast and Lactobacillus. Funky and wild yeasts are something else that gets Taylor excited. I was lucky enough to get to try a beer that was unlabeled and unnamed. It used funky yeast to imitate the tropical flavors of certain hop varietals. My first sip was heavenly and it was hard to convince my taste buds that there were no hops in the beer. I loved it. Microbes are so intriguing. I can’t wait to get my taste buds on some more of Taylor’s funky brewings.
Outside of the bottle, I have always loved Currahee’s logo. From a distance, a simple black and white design of an eagle, but take a closer look and you’ll see the mountain horizon and a river representing the beauty of the area they’re in. The word “currahee” is a Cherokee word meaning, “stand alone”. The name does more than just pay tribute to the Cherokee, it also honors the 506th Infantry Regiment, originally designated as the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment (506th PIR) during World War II, a unit of the 101st Airborne Division. The unit was made famous by their role in Operation Overlord (D-Day), Operation Market Garden, the Battle of the Bulge, and many other campaigns throughout World War II, and the Vietnam War. Currahee is also a mountain located in Stephens County, Georgia, near Toccoa, and was the training site of the 506th PIR at Camp Toccoa. Currahee mountain became the motto and gave rise to the famous quote: “3 Miles Up, 3 Miles Down.” This quote gave way to the name of Currahee’s Berliner weisse, Three Mile. The brewery name and the names of the beers aren’t just silly ideas, they stand for something……just like the guys behind the brewery.
Thanks, Taylor for opening up your space to me. I enjoyed the beers, the visit, and the company. And congrats! Shortly after my visit Currahee’s Kawi Milk Stout took home a bronze medal at the Great American Beer Festival!
Located in Franklin along a beautiful stretch of the Little Tennessee river, Currahee’s taproom and patio are the perfect place to enjoy a tasty North Carolina craft brew.