I sat down with Carli Smith, brewmaster of Charlotte’s Bold Missy brewery, to talk with her about Bold Missy and direct fire heating.
IFS: How did the brewery start?
Carli: Bold Missy was started by our founder, Carol Waggener, she used to be in beer, she worked for Budweiser before they were sold to InBev, then she went into other areas of the food and beverage business but she missed being in the beer industry, so she wanted to start her own brewery. It started May of 2017.
IFS: What is it like being a part of a woman owned brewery?
Carli: We don’t really do much differently in the day to day production, fermenting beer is fermenting beer whether you have an XX or XY chromosome, but we try to celebrate women within our brewery. We in no way want to be an exclusive brewery to just women, it’s an inclusive environment for women in our brewery and the bold missies we choose to be representative of our beers. We are the first women owned brewery in Charlotte. [It’s cool] with things the way they are right now and it being a male dominated industry to kind of be an example for women in that you can make it and you can be successful in this industry.
IFS: Do you collaborate with other breweries?
Carli: We have done a few collaborations. What’s coming up is our collaboration with the Charlotte Opera. One of their big shows this year is going to be Carmen, so we are calling the beer Carmen Get It, it is going to be a cinnamon brown ale. Every year the opera has a theme and this season’s theme is strong women characters so they wanted to do a partnership with us. We have more collaborations in the plans. We did a collaboration brew with all the women in different breweries in Charlotte for International Women’s Day for the Pink Boots collaboration brew. We participated in Beer de Femme, a Pink Boots North Carolina beer festival where all proceeds go to the Pink Boots society.
IFS: How do you find yourself connecting to the Charlotte community?
Carli: The Charlotte Independent Brewer’s Association, the Charlotte Chapter of the Pink Boots Society, Facebook groups online for Charlotte and NC Brewers resource groups so if you are short on raw materials or need to borrow a piece of equipment you can post on there and everyone is really helpful. It’s a really collaborative, inclusive industry.
IFS: What is the coolest thing about Bold Missy and Bold Missy Beer?
Carli: I think one of the coolest things we have here is our very wide variety of beer options. Our core beers- we’ve got light blonde, tangerine wheat, traditional American IPA, our brown ale, which is one of my favorites, chocolate stout for something dark, just with our core beers we have something for everybody. We sprinkle in some more hoppy beers, we have some strong stuff on, our glitter beer, which is a pink peppercorn lemon saison, coming up next we brewed a brute IPA and a black IPA for Halloween named for Harry Potter and we are going to have a big Harry Potter night, so we have fun with the themes of our beers and the wide variety.
IFS: Which is your favorite Bold Missy beer and why?
Carli: Definitely the Solo Flight Brown Ale. It’s an English style brown ale which is by far my favorite style of beer. That recipe I’ve been tweaking for three years and then I landed on what I liked about it. If I’m in a hoppy mood, our Surf Star IPA is one of my other babies, especially coming from San Diego. It’s a slightly bitter, citrusy, clear IPA
IFS: Do you use electric, direct fire or steam?
Carli: Direct Fire.
IFS: What size is your brewhouse?
Carli: 15 bbl.
IFS: How often/ how much do you brew in a month?
Carli: We brew, depending on production schedule, between 6-12 brews a month and about 70-90 barrels.
IFS: Why did you choose your current system?
Carli: There was a brewer’s consultant that Carol, our owner, used and it’s one of the systems he puts in a lot of his breweries.
IFS: What other heating options did Carol decide to look at and why did she decide against them?
Carli: I think steam was looked into but it was a more expensive option.
IFS: Did you have to get permits?
Carli: Permits to brew but I don’t think there were any permits for the equipment because it doesn’t have a boiler.
IFS: Do you have a lag from when your kettle is full and when you get to boil?
Carli: Yes. About an hour depending on the batch size.
IFS: What does that do to your brew day?
Carli: It makes it longer.
IFS: Have you seen any heating problems with traditional electric systems?
Carli: Sanitation and getting the right wattage to achieve the right electrical output for the temperature that is needed.
IFS: Do you have any heating horror stories?
Carli: Just if I forget to turn it on and it takes even longer. Boil overs are always a worry because you’ll close the lid to get up to boil because it takes longer if the lid is open but if that starts to happen and it starts to foam and boil over it’s really dangerous. If you get second or third degree burns from the wort there is a lot of bacteria in sugar that can infect burns really easily and badly. I’ve known a few people who have gotten bad burns from boil overs. We are very conscientious of being safe with that. At my brewery back in San Diego, one time my electric element in my hot liquor tank was not working as efficiently so I would boil water the day before brew day in the kettle and the next morning transfer it over into the hot liquor tank. One time, my assistant forgot to turn it down to below boiling and it actually almost boiled off almost 10 BBL of water overnight. The direct fire on the kettle was sitting there dry, it’s really bad for the equipment.
IFS: Why do brewers choose to use direct fire?
Carli: Usually it’s the most budget friendly option. It’s a good option for anything 10BBL or less because it’s efficient enough to boil by the time you reach lautering, so you really don’t need steam for something less than 10BBL. Most people choose direct fire for between 15BBL or less. Above that you can’t get a vigorous enough boil to boil off all the off flavors you don’t want in your beer or it takes too much time that it’s not efficient enough [to use direct fire].