CRAFT by Under My Host® Issue No. 14 Sci-Fi & Fantasy - Page 124

loves its beer just as much as its farms. But it’s far more difficult than it appears. It’s definitely been difficult for us, and every set- back has been disheartening. But we’ve also re- alized that in order to get open before burning through our entire operating budget and com- pletely losing both our morale and our amazing team, we may have to consider a different type of site than we’d originally envisioned, at least at the start. At this point, we really just want to fer- ment stuff. Our plan as it stands now is to lease a somewhat more industrial startup space where we can start making things, open a smaller-scale tasting room, and begin to establish ourselves while we work on building from the ground up on a long-term site. The startup space we’re currently looking at isn’t ideal in a number of ways, including the lack of a sloped floor or floor drains of any kind, and a building that, though surrounded by ma- jestic Washington evergreens, isn’t exactly the most picturesque. However, we’ll be able to start a fermentation program there with minimal ini- tial costs. In the meantime, we also plan to lease some nearby agricultural land to begin the pro- cess of growing some of our ingredients. While it’s disappointing that we won’t be able to make our entire vision a cohesive reality right away, we can at least make part of it: delicious, thoughtful Skagit beer, cider, wine, and mead. The prospect of starting in a temporary space with little drainage, though challenging, is made somewhat more palatable for us than it would be Wildflowers Used for Yeast Capture Wildflowers Used for Yeast Capture for other brewers, since we plan on starting with- out a brew house. Instead, we’ll make our wort offsite and transport it to our facility in stainless steel totes, which will double as primary fermen- ters. While getting started, we’re also working with our friends at Skagit Valley Malting, which is actually a state and federally licensed brewery, to start making some test batches on their pilot system using their malt and our yeast. And our yeast! We’re so excited about the yeast! Part of our goal at Garden Path has always been to ferment using only naturally cultivated yeast from the Valley for fermentation, and we’ve been experimenting with yeast capture since we first arrived. Unfortunately, our first capture exper- iments, involving mason jars of fresh hot wort left overnight in the orchard of our first, failed potential brewery site, only succeeded in captur- ing and cultivating mold. The failure could have resulted from previous spraying in the orchard, which would limit the amount of live active yeast and bacteria; alternatively, a cheesecloth-cov- ered mason jar may not have offered enough sur- face area for happy yeast to gather. I prefer to see it as an omen, though, that it wasn’t the right site for our project. This spring, we tried again. On one beautiful April day when it felt like every square inch of the Valley was in bloom, Ron and I ventured out with Jason Hansen, our Lead Fermentationist, on a foliage mission. We picked one of every flow- er we saw—tulips, daffodils, cherry blossoms, dandelions, daisies, rhododendrons, and many “mysteries” from various Washington trees and