Episode 189: Amber Watts and Ron Extract of Garden Path Fermentation Bottle the Flavors of the Skagit Valley
Manage episode 293648662 series 2614886
Amber Watts and Ron Extract didn't land in Washington's Skagit Valley by chance. Their brewery, Garden Path Fermentation, was a concept in search of a home, but the farming community between Seattle and Vancouver, British Columbia provided exactly what they were looking for—locally grown and malted barley, a variety of fruits and berries, and a perfect climate for the kind of unstructured, non-temperature-controlled fermentations they wanted to explore. They planted roots in 2016, and have since embarked on a creative approach to fermentation that is quintessentially Washington.
While some wild brewers set the pieces in motion and let the beers land where they may, Garden Path takes an editorial or curatorial approach, focusing on flavors and the means to produce them, given the self-imposed restrictions they've embraced. 98% of their ingredients come from the surrounding valley (the rest are hops, a huge crop in another Washington valley a few hours away). But rather than adhere to consistency, Garden Path revels in brewing as live performance. Each beer is akin to a band's live set—never exactly the same, despite similar frameworks—and no performance can be reproduced note-for-note a second time. The result is a series of one-time experiences, as they balance idealism and creativity with practical concerns.
In this episode, they discuss:
- Balancing fruit flavors in complex, layered, and dry beers, some with smoke
- Mouthfeel and flavor contributions of whole fruit
- Capturing, evaluating, and building a mixed culture of wild and native yeast
- Distinctions between their spontaneous and non-spontaneous processes
- The benefits of open fermentation
- Bottle conditioning with honey
- Blending wild beers
Brewing wild beer with intention involves risk, but the reward can be huge. For Garden Path, the proof is in the glass, and it tastes like the Skagit Valley that they call home.
*This episode is brought to you by: *
G&D Chillers (https://gdchillers.com): As the brewing industry’s premier choice for glycol chilling, G&D Chillers has set the standard on quality, service, reliability and dedication to their customer’s craft. New this year, Redundancy meets Efficiency! G&D’s Micro-Channel Condensers are built with all aluminum construction which eliminates galvanic corrosion. Using half the refrigerant of conventional condensers with fewer brazed connections, translates to a lower GWP and less opportunity for leaks. Call G&D Chillers today to discuss your project or reach out directly at GDChillers.com.
BSG (https://bsgcraftbrewing.com/) This episode is brought to you by Rahr North Star Pils. A new base malt to set your compass by. Rahr North Star Pils is crafted for brewers looking for a domestic pilsner malt with low color and low modification. North Star Pils carries overtones of honey and sweet bread, supported by flavors and aromas of hay and nutty character. Suitable for any beer style, but particularly craft brewed versions of classic lagers. Let Rahr North Star Pils guide your craft by visiting bsgcraftbrewing.com, or contact us at 1.800.374.2739.
Old Orchard (https://www.oldorchard.com/brewer): The world of craft beer is a different place now. Margins are more important than ever, so why not lower your ingredient cost? Craft juice concentrates from Old Orchard are the cost-effective solution for your fruit-forward needs. Old Orchard produces high volumes of their retail juice brand, so economies of scale keep prices low for their bulk supply program. A little concentrate goes a long way, and you won't lose some of it through filtering like you would with purees. To start increasing your margins now, head on over to www.oldorchard.com/brewer.
Brewery DB® (https://www.marketmybrewery.com): For years, BreweryDB® has been the industry’s only professionally curated source of brewery and beer information. In 2019, over one million brewery visits were made by craft fans searching for breweries on BreweryDB.com! In just a few weeks, BreweryDB® will unveil an all-new experience to help craft lovers get back on the brewery trail! To take full advantage of the enhanced marketing power of BreweryDB® – and increase your tap room traffic, setup your account on MarketMyBrewery.com. It’s easy and it’s free!
Ss Brewtech (https://www.ssbrewtech.com): The founders launched Ss Brewtech with a very clear goal to advance brewing equipment design, performance, and quality to the very highest standards in the industry. With a team that draws upon strong functional backgrounds in brewing science, mechanical engineering, industrial design, supply chain, and manufacturing, Ss Brewtech has the people and skill sets you would want and expect from your supplier of pro brewing equipment. Head over to SsBrewtech.com for more information on their brewhouses and brewing gear.
Clarion Lubricants (https://www.clarionlubricants.com/Welcome.do): When it comes to brewing, nobody has your back like Clarion. Because their food-grade lubricants are formulated to help make your brewing system 100% food safe. That means, when you switch to Clarion, you can put the costly potential of contamination and recall out of your mind. All you need to worry about is brewing great beer. And since you already do that, well, it’s more like focusing on business as usual. Go to clarionlubricants.com to learn more.