Posts Tagged craft beer
Just a little article about a newish trend in brewing. What sorts of ingredients from where you live would you add?
Forget Barley And Hops: Craft Brewers Want A Taste Of Place
by Alastair Bland
Last week, Aaron Kleidon went for a walk in the Illinois woods and returned with a bag of lotus seeds. The seeds were bound not for his dinner plate, but for his pint glass.
In a few months, Kleidon will have lotus-flavored beer at the small brewpub , which he owns with two friends in Ava, Ill. The microbrewery specializes in beers with seeds, leaves, roots, fruits and fungi foraged from a nearby wooded property. The brewers have even made a saison from chanterelle mushrooms.
Why, you may ask, would anyone want to add strange seeds and mushrooms to their beer? The answer is to create a taste of place. It’s a concept long recognized by and winemakers, who call it terroir, but is mostly absent from the craft of brewing.
This approach the placelessness of mainstream brewers, who mostly use the same ingredients grown in the same places — barley from the Great Plains and hops from the Pacific Northwest.
“Beer should have a connection with the landscape,” says Portland-based beer lover Eric Steen. In 2011, Steen started a program called that invites brewers to go hiking with an eye out for trail-side plants to use in their beers. Steen’s beer walks have involved such major breweries as Deschutes and New Belgium, and have resulted in oddities like a sour chokecherry beer, a sage-juniper IPA and a blonde ale brewed with stinging nettles and salmonberries.
Across the country, in backwoods and backyards, there are others searching for ingredients to flavor their beer. This summer, brewers around Washington, D.C., held a called Foraged Cask, which showcased beers made with unusual additions like mint, mulberries and lavender. And for several years, Chris Haas, head brewer at in Salt Lake City, has trekked into the local mountains late each summer to collect wild-growing hops.
At in Santa Cruz, Calif., owner Alec Stefansky brews a red ale using maple-scented candy cap mushrooms. Stefansky, who has also experimented with fragrant redwood branches, says using wild, local ingredients in his beer is a way “to make flavors that are uniquely Northern Californian.”
For his beer — called Rubidus Red, after the candy cap’s Latin name — Stefansky collects the mushrooms himself each fall and winter. He says that the maple syrup aroma of dried candy caps is so potent that a single cup will do for seven barrels of the beer. What’s more, if a person drinks just 2 or 3 pints of Rubidus Red, he or she will begin to smell deliciously like the fungus, according to Stefansky.
“You’ll wake up smelling like breakfast,” he says.
Imprinting beer with the flavor and scent of the South is a focus at , in Durham, N.C., founder Sean Lilly Wilson tells The Salt. The brewery features both wild ingredients and those grown on local farms — like hickory-smoked barley, sweet potatoes, local corn grits, figs from neighborhood trees, pawpaw fruits and wild American persimmons.
Brewing with foraged edibles may seem like another eccentric step forward by the ever-innovating craft beer industry, but Steen at Beers Made by Walking says it is actually a step backward.
“Historically, there were all sorts of herbs with flavor and medicinal qualities used in beer,” he explains. “So, this is nothing new or special. It’s really quite an old tradition.”
So, every year there comes the most wondrous event in the beer world: California Beer Festival. With over 100 beers on tap, lots of food and entertainment, this is pretty much a beer lover’s dream. This is an annual traveling series of street fair-style events put on in cities up and down the state (this year there were 4) that embrace the craft brewing culture. I will admit this is my first visit to this particular event. Last year, I went to the Microbrew Fest in Two Harbors on Catalina Island. That was a very pleasant surprise, as I and the people I was with at the time had not a shred of awareness it was going on beforehand, since we were on the island on other business (bachelor party). It was much smaller than the upcoming one in Ventura, but still I couldn’t have had more fun out there. I expect the CBF will be even more fun, with more beer, more people and more beer! (Did I mention more beer?) I’ll post some pictures of the event next week. In the meantime, let me know in the comments below about some cool beer events you have gone to.
Until then, cheers!