Blue Ridge Brewing Company, Greenville, SC circa late 1990s

Blue Ridge Brewing Company, Greenville, SC

Blue Ridge Brewing Company, Greenville, SC circa late 1990s

Ryan Kurlfink
Blue Ridge Brewing Company
Greenville, South Carolina

Beer is at the center of Pittsburgh’s working man culture. Industrial beers for an industrial town makes perfect sense, but it was not until his college days in Colorado that Pittsburgh-native Ryan Kurlfink discovered the wonderful world of craft-brewed beer. As an undergraduate student in Boulder, locally brewed beer became an infatuation. It “blew [him] away that [he] was from a town that took such pride in beer only to find that Pittsburgh had a lot to learn.”

While sampling and learning about beer, Ryan searched for a job in the industry. Literally begging for a chance, he found work in the Colorado mining town of Loveland Pass at Silver Plume Brewing Company in early 1995. Though he toiled only a few months at this 20-barrel, open fermenter brewery, it was good training indeed, especially since Ryan had never been a homebrewer. Returning to family and friends in Pittsburgh, the novice brewer found that craft brewing hadn’t taken root in his hometown. Jobless, he made the rounds, finding plenty of advice but no offer of employment. From these contacts Ryan “learn what being a brewer in a big brewery was like- pushing buttons and lab work,” something he had absolutely no interest in.

While working in South Carolina for his in-laws, Ryan met Bob Hiller just weeks before this new acquaintance was to open Blue Ridge Brewing Company in revitalizing downtown Greenville. Ryan hired on as assistant brewer working for Charles Lloyd. An Englishman who learned to brew the UK way before taking his first stateside job in Seattle, Lloyd taught his employee the intricacies and “neat little tricks” of brewing before moving on to his own San Francisco venture 18 months later. Ryan has been the man beer man ever since.

Blue Ridge beers are now all Ryan’s. Kurly Blonde Ale even carries his name. This hybrid, 1/3rd wheat ale uses all-imported grain. The brewpub’s biggest seller, the malt bill is complex but its Kurly’s hop profile that “sets it apart.” The brewer takes pride in producing a beer that helps wien people from domestic beer, especially when they don’t realize how hoppy it is. Noble pils hops makes for a pils-like wheat ale that “attenuates nice and dry” like a nice crisp pilsner albeit it with an English Ale yeast and its noticeably fruit flavor results. A heavy dose of crystal malt and other English-only grain goes into Rainbow Trout Amber ESB, resulting in an “almost candy cherry sweetness.” With English Kent Goldings and Challenger hops, this ESB is as English as Ryan can make.


German-grown Munich malts give character to Hurricane Hefeweizen. Though it has a “heavy” appearance, this lightish brew is rich in banana-clove aroma and taste. A light sprinkling of German Perle hops, for bittering only, is buried in the swirling flavor profile. Hops flavor and bitterness dominate Colonel Paris Pale Ale. Named for a notorious Confederate soldier, this West Coast-style American Pale is a little less filling than its California counterparts but it still provides a solid Cascade “hoppy punch in the face,” while making a great session drink. Ryan’s recipe calls dry-hopping with more Cascades hops.

Blue Ridge seasonals include the bronze Total Eclipse Stout, which stakes territory somewhere between the Sweet and Dry Stout categories. This brooding brew won a bronze medal at the 1998 World Beer Cup in the Foreign Style Stout category. Brown Bag Ale is done proper English style, exuberant in suggestive malty sweetness. A robust porter, Santa’s Little Helper requires beechwood smoked malt which yields a big, heavy wintertime porter that’s “chocolate, chewy and smoky.” Hmmm. In the midst of the Bible-belt, Ryan defiantly strives to makes “beers that aren’t boring.”

Ryan works with a 10 barrel brewhouse that sits just inside Blue Ridge’s front door. No glass, partitions or rope barrier separates brewing activity from curious diners. Step infusion mashing is common in his recipes. All beers, save the Hefe, are filtered. Four 10 barrel fermenters and five equally sized serving tanks provide life to the long, wooden bar. State law prohibits off premise keg sales, though 1/2 gallon growlers are often seen leaving the scene. The year 2000 saw 749 barrels produced. 2001 is running at the same pace.

Blue Ridge, the brewpub, is known as the “best place in town for steak.” Everything on the interesting menu is made to order. No freezer to fryer fare here, there’s barbecue buffalo, catfish ettoufe, pecan crusted rainbow trout, shrimp & grits, pork tenderloin and more.

Downtown Greenville is one of the South’s few success stories. Its revitalization has inspired store owners, restaurateurs and others. In business since June 1996, Blue Ridge Brewing Company plays a major role in the city’s resurgence. It’s not all about the beer, but Ryan Kurlfink’s capable brewing has sure helped.

Blue Ridge Brewing Company
217 N. Main Street
Greenville, SC 29608

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Percy’s Fish House, Atlanta, GA

Percy’s Fish House, Atlanta, GA


Brewer Doug Nance supplied us with his great recipe for his Pale Ale.  The brewpub closed in 1999:

Percy’s Pale Ale

This West-coast style pale ale is light amber in color and highly hopped. If you like bitter brews with lots of hop character, this pale ale is for you. Percy’s Pale Ale was named Best Beer in Atlanta by the Atlanta Journal Constitution in 1998, and was in the top 10 for 3 years running!

Original Gravity: 1060 (15 P)
Yield: 5 U.S. gallons

All Grain version

  • Pale Ale malt – 8 pounds
  • Munich – 1 pound
  • Crystal 20 – 1 pound
  • Crystal 40 – 1/2 pound

Extract version substitute:
7 pounds Light malt extract syrup OR 5.6 pounds XL Dried Malt Extract for the 2 Row malt

Mash grain at 148 F for 60 minutes adding 1 oz. Gypsum (CaSO4) to the mash tun. Doug uses 3 gallons of 160 F water to mash in with. Sparge with 165 F water to collect 5.5 gallons. Boil 90 minutes.

Extract version – in boil pot, steep specialty grains plus 1 1/2 pounds Pale malt in 2 gallons of water at 148F for 1 hour. Remove grain, then add malt extract, fill kettle to 6 US gallons and bring to a boil. Look for a target gravity of 1055 (13.6 P) in 5.5 gallons of water. Doug adds that if you brew a concentrated boil (less than the full 5.5 to 6 gallon boil we recommend) to add 1 ounce of Columbus to the first hop addition for a total of 2 ounces for 60 minutes.


  • Columbus – 1 ounce for 60 min
  • Columbus – 1 ounce for 40 min
  • Cascade – 1 ounce for 40 min
  • Columbus – 1 ounce for 15 min
  • Cascade – 1 ounce for 15 min
  • Columbus – 1 ounce for 0 min
  • Cascade – 1 ounce for 0 min
  • Columbus – 2 ounces Dry hop* use whole leaf hop cones
  • Cascade – 2 ounce Dry hop* use whole leaf hop cones

Yeast – cool wort as quickly as possible and pitch:
Wyeast 1056 American Ale. Doug suggests you use two smack packs or a starter. You can also use 1 Wyeast pitchable quantity tube.

Ferment at 68 F until Kraeusen drops and leave in the fermenter for 2 more days (6-7 days total).
*Dry Hop after primary fermentation is complete (after 1 week). Transfer to a secondary and then add hops. Age 2 weeks with hops and bottle with 3/4 cup dextrose. Doug suggests that you condition the beer for 2 weeks at room temperature, cellar at 50 F for 2 weeks and enjoy!

Sandy Creek Belgian Blonde by Burnt Stone Brewing – Athens, GA

Burnt Stone Brewing – Athens, GA

This brewery is still alive and well in Athens, Ga but has become Copper Creek Brewing.  The recipes presented here are from 2001.  The original brewery was an extract brewery, with a modified mash tun added at a later date.  The recipes presented here for Burntstone are extract based but we have added to each recipe a conversion for grain to extract you can use if you want to re-create these as all-grain formulations.

The original brewer, Matt Buley is still manning the kettle.  He worked with John Gayer at Blind Man Ales when it was open in the mid to late 90’s and also was a partner in one of Athens home brew stores, Normal Brew, opened in 1994 in the Normal Town area of Athens, Georgia off Prince Avenue.  Copper Creek rotates 39 beer styles year round.  If you can plan it, make sure to stop by Copper Creek the first Wednesday of each month for an English Cask tapping!  Tuesday you can order $2 house brews – just another reason to stop by Copper Creek and check out Matt’s creations on Washington Street in Athens.

Sandy Creek Belgian Blonde


This recipe was created in an attempt to produce something like a Belgian White with less phenol character and require less wheat.  It ferments dry, with emphasis on its spicy character.

Original Gravity: 1050 (12.5 P)

Final Gravity 1009 (2.25 P)
IBU: 21.4

Yield: 5 U.S. gallons

Extract version

  • 3.3 pounds Munton’s XL malt extract syrup OR 2.6 pounds XL DME
  • 2.5 pounds Dextrose
  • Pilsner malt 1/3 pounds
  • Wheat malt 7 oz
  • Carahell 1 oz

NOTE: You can generally substitute 1.9 pounds of 2 Row base malt grain for 1 pound of XL Dried Malt if you want to make an all grain version of the beer.
Burntstone would do a mini mash – Mash grain at 148 F for 40 minutes and then raise temp to 150 for 30 minutes and then 152 for 20 minutes.  At home you can do this in your boil pot with a grain bag in 2-3 gallons of water as you would normally do with an extract recipe. After the mini-mash, remove grain, then add malt extract, fill kettle to 6 US gallons and bring to a boil.


  • Northern Brewer ½ oz for 60 min and 19 IBU – add as a first wort hop addition as you fill the kettle
  • Saaz 1/6 oz for 15 min and 1.2 IBU
  • Coriander spice, crushed – 2 oz for 15 min
  • Saaz 1/2 oz for 5 min and 1.2 IBU
  • Coriander spice, crushed – 2 oz at the whirlpool at the end of the boil

Yeast – cool wort as quickly as possible and pitch Wyeast 1388 Belgian Strong Ale

Ferment at 68 F until Kraeusen drops and leave in the fermenter for 2 more days before transferring to a secondary carboy (6 – 8 days total). Age 1 to 2 weeks in the secondary and bottle/keg.

Burnt Stone Brewing | The Lost Beers

Funky Buddha Sweet Potato Casserole Strong Ale Arrives Sept 1

SPC Image

Drop the dressing and ditch the pumpkin: Sweet Potato Casserole Strong Ale is debuting in 4-pack, 12 oz bottles and on draft starting on September 1.

Funky Buddha’s September through November seasonal is fresh out of the oven and ready to party. This fall treat is just like moms used to make – only if moms had penchant for gooey marshmallow, fall spices, and gobs of sweet potato cavorting in one sinful glass. It clocks in at 7.9% ABV.

SPC will go on sale at Funky Buddha Brewery at noon on September 1 for $11.99 per 4-pack. It will also see full state distribution through Brown Distributing starting that week. Expect SPC to arrive in all major retailers including Total Wine, Whole Foods Market, ABC Fine Wine & Spirits, The Fresh Market, Trader Joe’s, and select Publix locations.

Chit’s India Pale Lager

A medium bodied IPL with a fresh citrus hop character, brewed with lager yeast!!! If you do not have lagering abilities then use your favorite ale strain to make a perfectly nice ale version.

OG 1054 (13.4 P)
IBU 51
Yield 5 US gallons

All Grain Version

  • American Pilsner malt 8 1/2 pounds
  • Munich malt ¼ pound
  • Gambrinus Honey Malt ¼ pound
  • Crystal 30 L ½ pound
  • Chocolate malt 1 oz

Extract version – substitute 6.6 pounds XL malt extract syrup  OR use 5.25 pounds XL DME

Mash grain at 151 F for 60 minutes.

Extract version – in boil pot, steep specialty grains in water at 150F for 30 min. Remove grain, then add malt extract, fill kettle to 6 US gallons and bring to a boil. Look for a target gravity of 1045 (11.1 P)

HOPS – Total boil time is 90 minutes.

  • Nugget ¾ oz for 60 min for 33.8 IBU
  • Cascade 2/3 oz for 30 min for 8.9 IBU
  • Cascade 1 1/8 oz for 10 min for 8.7 IBU

YEAST – cool wort as quickly as possible and pitch Wyeast 2124 Bohemian Lager.  If you do not have lagering capabilities us Wyeast 1056 or White Labs 001 to make a clean ale version of this beer.

FERMENT – For Lager Yeast: Start Fermentation at 68 F until Kraeusen develops and then drop temp to 50 F until the fermentation ends (around 12 days). Warm to 68F and leave for 2 days. Drop temp by 3-5 F per day until 33F is reached. Lager for 1 to 2 months before bottling or kegging.

For Ale Yeast: Ferment at 68 F until signs of fermentation are complete. Rack to secondary carboy and age 2-3 weeks and then bottle or keg.

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