LIQUID ASSETS: Tap to Farm Due South Brewing

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STORY AND PHOTOS BY MELINDA WEBSTER

Mike and Jodi Halker, owners of Due South Brewing Co., are truly living the hoppy life. They have been producing American-style handcrafted ales at their Boynton Beach brewery since 2012. Fate led the couple to the craft beer business when Mike decided to try his hand at making wine for Jodi. He stopped by a homebrew supply store to purchase the equipment and ingredients. The sales clerk explained how making beer was far easier and more cost-effective than making wine, and Mike found his new passion in life.

Due South Brewing’s flagship beer is the Caramel Cream Ale—pronounced “car-mel,” not “car-a-mel”—which was perfected via hundreds of test batches. After entering several home-brewing competitions and getting positive feedback on the Caramel Cream Ale, the Halkers knew they had to open a brewery. From idea to opening day took almost two years, and included finding the right site and lobbying the city to rewrite ordinances; but perseverance and drive finally made Due South Brewing a reality in May 2012.

An important part of Due South’s recipe for success is its commitment to supporting local farms and establishing sustainable business practices.

Brewing produces by-products called “spent grains” that often are discarded, contributing to the more than 1.3 billion tons per year of nutrition food loss. Every beer brewed at Due South goes through a process called “mashing in,” which combines a mix of milled grain, typically malted barley, and water over heat. This process allows the enzymes in the malt to break down the starches into sugars. The next step in the process is “lautering,” where the liquid is separated from the grain, with spent grain as the byproduct. Spent grains have a nutritional value, but are often wasted.

“As home brewers we hated dealing with the spent grains, which are really stinky,” Jodi Halker says. “Our friend Craig Leitzke of Lake Worth offered to take the grains as feed for his small chicken farm, and he ‘paid’ us in fresh eggs. From then on, our grains have been donated for animal consumption. We have gone from 50 pounds of spent grain weekly as home brewers, to 8,000 pounds a week at Due South’s full production brewery.”

“Only in America do we throw away food that still has nutritional value,” says Leitzke, and he’s partly right. A 2011 study on food waste conducted by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations and presented at Save Food!, an international congress in Germany, found that North America and Europe contribute to the highest waste of cereals, which are wheat, rye, oat, and barley. About 35 percent of all cereals grown in these nations are not consumed, according to the FAO.

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An important part of Due South’s
recipe for success is its commitment
to supporting local farms and
establishing sustainable business practices.

In addition to Leitzke’s chicken farm, Due South also donates spent grains to the Delray Equestrian Center. Matthew Dunmire, who runs the facility, picks up the grains at the brewery to feed his horses and his Anguscross and Limousin cows. The spent grains provide an excellent all-natural food source for his livestock, Dunmire says.

Another popular beer sold by Due South is the Honey Vanilla Wheat. It’s a light, easy drinking beer that’s perfect for the hot Florida summers. Due South keeps things local with this beer as well. They use palmetto honey from McCoy’s Sunny South Apiary located in Loxahatchee. Palmetto honey is a by-product of the saw palmetto berry that is coveted for its extract, containing from 85 percent to 98 percent fatty acids and sterols. The saw palmetto palm produces fruit once a year, with berries about the size of an olive. The saw palmetto fruit are handpicked, dried into a powder, and then converted into a liquid for encapsulation.

The honey bee starts this process by pollinating the saw palmetto blossom. Palmetto honey is produced profusely during the bloom season. The honey is considered a gourmet product and is primarily available for purchase only in the state of Florida.

Due South has brewed more than 20 different beers since opening day. Mike and Jodi Halker try to use local farm-fresh ingredients whenever possible. Jodi states, “If we can keep any of our money and business close to home that’s what we try to do. When we use oranges, we only use Florida oranges from local markets. Sadly, we don’t know of any hops that grow well in this climate.” Even the coffee bean used to brew the Café Ole Espresso Porter comes from a local roaster so that it has that great fresh coffee taste. Giving back to the local community and supporting great organizations are also extremely important to the Halkers. Recently, they brewed an American strong ale called UXO, an acronym for unexploded ordnance. A portion of the proceeds of the UXO ale are donated to the EOD (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) Warrior Foundation. Due South has also donated to Warm Hearts Pet Rescue, Girl Scouts of America, Habitat for Humanity Palm Beach, Saluting Our Heroes, The Connie Foundation for Breast Cancer, as well as other foundations, local businesses, charities, and fundraisers for employees or customers in need.

When in Boynton Beach, a visit to Due South Brewing is a must. Enjoy the freshly made beer that went from fermenter to your glass and only traveled 100 feet, play a game of corn hole, watch live sporting events, or just hang out and watch the brewers do their thing. Also, you can pick up a growler or keg of your favorite beer to go.

Due South Brewing Co.
2900 High Ridge Road, Boynton Beach
Hours: noon-10 pm Tues.-Thurs.;
noon-11 pm Fri-Sat.; noon-6 pm Sun.
(561) 463-2337 | Duesouthbrewing.com

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