Friday, November 09, 2012

New brew

James Frazer is racking up prizes for his craft beer while looking for investors.

Nouveau craft brewer James Frazer, 31, is galvanizing the Bedford community through beer.

His venture, Labrewtory Brewing Co., has garnered the marketing support of a Bedford graphic designer and a Lynchburg production company, and a "lot of individual people in town who sample my beer and said its the best beer they've ever had," Frazer said.

So far, his home-based operation has 13 style beers under its belt. These drafts have placed in beer competitions across the country, he said.

"Right now, I got my eyes on the prize, which is winning awards and credibility."

To create concoctions such as the minty "Wounded Pterodactyl," or "Maryanne or Ginger" with its lemon, orange blossom honey and ginger root, Frazer frequents local farmers' markets in search of fresh ingredients. Organic materials such as local honey make up 75 percent to 80 percent of his recipes, he said.

At home in his kitchen, brewing equipment is rudimentary. Six 3-gallon stovetop fermenters and a 5-gallon cooler contribute toward the making of 18 gallons of Frazer's homebrew. The brewing process "from grain to glass" typically takes four weeks to two months, Frazer said.

Beer making appeals to Frazer's scientific nature, and has economic benefits, as well.

"An IPA costs $20. I can make it in my kitchen for 70 cents."

After a friend described the simplicity of stovetop brewing, and armed with information gleaned from the Internet, Frazer began brewing 1-gallon batches in November 2010.

"I was sharing with my friends and people who know good beer," he said.

And the outcome of those early trial runs? Delicious was the consensus, said Frazer.

Encouraged by the positive feedback, Frazer entered a Colorado brewing competition in June. His IPA took gold, and his American Creme Ale took second place in light hybrid; five months later he would win a total of six awards in different competitions.

"I'm really proud of that," he said. "Using low-tech equipment in my kitchen and winning awards. That's more of a resume for me."

Beer competitions are graded on such things as aroma, taste and appearance. Frazer fine-tunes recipes for each occasion. If it needs a sweet, dry finish, he adds more yeast. For an aromatic brew, add dry hops.

Frazer is a champion of American-style beers. His newest creation, "Vacation Bible Stout," incorporates chocolate and coffee. It's definitely one of the harder beers to brew, he said.

"The artisan craft beer doesn't taste like anything you have at a store," said Frazer.

Labrewtory currently offers no beer for sale, but Frazer said he is running the operation like a business, "without the profit or loss." He projects a fully incorporated enterprise producing 100 gallons of beer, with distribution extending from Virginia into neighboring states in the next five years.

Plans for a fundraiser to help Frazer realize that goal are in the works. The event will be held March 16 at the Bower Center for the Arts in Bedford.

"One thing we're lacking is capital to make it to the next level," said Frazer. "Maybe the right person will come along and partner up."