Sean Wilson —past coordinator of a successful effort to unlimit the allowable alcohol levels for beer in North Carolina, Pop the Cap— has plans to open his own brewpub in Durham, North Carolina.
Although Full Steam isn't yet brick and mortar (and stainless steel), Sean and his team have already done several things right, and are doing others in fascinating fashion. Such as their internet address— fullsteam.ag:
We’re going with the fullsteam dot ag to help spread this message of beer-as-agriculture, particularly as we will rely heavily on local farms for flavoring components. Plus, the .ag is a little “out there” and unexpected.
As part of his mission at Full Steam, Sean wishes to help correct a beer/agricultural disconnection, an 'unknowing' many have with beer and indeed with much of the food chain. Here's how Sean puts it:
To many people, beer is some kind of mystery beverage produced in industrial vats. In fact, we’d argue that beer’s recent (past forty years) image problem is, in part, because people don’t understand how it’s made. Wine? That’s crushing grapes. Even neutral spirits like vodka…well, that’s potatoes (sometimes, not always…but that’s what people think).
Try this sometime. Pick someone randomly and ask them what beer is made from. Well, not too random…avoid asking anyone wearing a “support your local brewery” t-shirt, bearded men, microbiologists, and people who regularly swim in rivers.
Chances are that half of them won’t know the four primary ingredients in beer. Heck, some of you might not know. And that’s okay…as long as you leave with that information (barley, hops, yeast, water). <..>
The brewery industry continues to struggle to get the word out that beer is an agricultural product, made from grains, a vine (technically bine) that produces flowers, water, and live yeast.
Maybe Full Steam will be one brewer's analogue to The Omnivore's Dilemma. I'll be waiting for it — intrigued and thirsty.
[UPDATE 2008.10.29: Read what happened when Full Steam of Durham visited Bruisin' Ales of Asheville.]