Southwest Virginia brewery, farm help each other out
August 07, 2018
ST. PAUL, Va. — You might credit Jimmy Buffett with making a connection between a cheeseburger and a cold, draft beer. In St. Paul, Virginia, that’s also a combination that’s readily available at the Sugar Hill Brewing Company.
The manager, Joseph Bailey, makes sure of it. Bailey, 23, serves burgers with about a dozen beers, dubbed “Sugar Hill Blonde” and “Warm & Fuzzy,” at the brewery owned by his parents, Greg and Jennifer Bailey.
And, to cook, he relies on ordering 100 pounds of ground beef each week from Gent Farms of nearby Lebanon, Virginia.
“So many people around here like to go to the big corporations to get their product for a lot cheaper,” Joseph Bailey said. “But Gent Farms is not even very expensive, and it’s helping a local family. And being a family-owned business ourselves, we appreciate it whenever they come to eat here.”
Bailey describes the Gent ground beef as having “a good proportion of fat and lean, and they’re always very juicy burgers. People around here really enjoy them, and they really enjoy that we are getting them from a local farm.”
In a unique way, too, the Sugar Hill Brewing Company makes a return effort on that taste.
“We give them our spent grains from brewing,” Bailey said.
Each week, the brewery lets go of about 200 to 500 pounds of brownish-green grain — spent material that looks like “a bunch of mash,” Bailey said.
The brewery takes out “all the sugars and all the things to make beer out of it,” Bailey said.
“It’s the malt and barley that’s already cooked in the brewing process. Basically, we would just be throwing it out, so we just give it to them so they can feed their cattle with it,” Bailey said. “And, according to our brewmaster, Brent Dingus, it is very healthy for cattle, healthy for their stomachs and helps them produce good meat.”
Even so, Bailey said, “I would imagine that spent grain doesn’t go too far with their cattle because they’ve got a lot of them.”
Still, it does help.
“It’s basically a supplemental save,” said the farm’s co-owner, Brandon Gent, 33. “We’re not feeding our cows for free, but it helps cheapen the cost.”
Brewers’ grain has “a bittersweet flavor,” Gent said. “It’s just a good product to mix within your rations. We feed some of it straight. Long story short, the cows really don’t like it just, like, itself. We mix it with grain and corn and another source of protein, like soybean meal.”
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