CLAYTON -- The first time was a charm for amateur home brewer Steven Grantham, earning him a prize in the inaugural N.C. Brewer’s Cup competition.
The Clayton resident entered two homemade offerings into the German Wheat and Rye Beer category with his Bavarian style Hefeweizen taking second place. It was the first competition for the beer maker.
“I was surprised to learn I had won,” said Grantham, 35. “I knew I entered a couple of good beers but didn’t expect to finish top three. I mainly entered to get professional feedback from professional judges.”
He described his winning entry as a medium-bodied beer with a cloudy appearance featuring banana and clove flavors. The beverage has a slightly tart taste, is a good choice for summer drinking and contains 5.9 percent alcohol.
The competition was scored by eight beer judges on Sept. 29. A total of 177 beers were entered, including 33 professional and 144 amateur entries. The top winners were displayed in the Education Building during the N.C. State Fair.
Grantham, who works full-time at a family-owned seafood restaurant in Dunn, began studying the art of home brewing just a year ago. Using a book given to him by an uncle, he studied the brewing and fermenting process and began crafting his own unique recipes.
“I love to drink beer and I’m sort of a connoisseur,” he said. “I wanted to learn about the process of making my own beer. I like to take a traditional recipe and give it my own twist.”
The process is time-consuming but a pleasurable hobby for Grantham. On his days off, he begins the first step in the brewing process in the kitchen, standing over a boiling pot on the stove. In about four hours it’s ready for the fermenting phase. The liquid remains at this stage between two and four weeks before it is ready to be bottled. Grantham said his recipes aren’t immediately ready for consumption and need another few weeks to allow the flavors to meld.
A typical batch produces five gallons or around 50 bottles of beer.
“It’s a lot of attention to detail,” said Grantham. “It takes a little bit of trial and error to get your beer to taste the way you want it to.”
He is also perfecting several other types of traditional and specialty ales, including Irish Red, Pumpkin, Ginger, Christmas Ale and American Wheat. In the future, he’d like to open up his own microbrewery somewhere in the state.
“I have a blast doing this,” Grantham said. “I typically share it with friends and family. I love to see what people think of my beer.”