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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, and the farming community between Seattle and Vancouver 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 since then have 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 a more selective, intentional approach, focusing on flavors and the means to produce them, given the self-imposed restrictions they’ve embraced. About 98 percent of their ingredients come from the surrounding valley (the rest are hops, grown in another Washington valley a few hours away).
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 – 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
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.
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