There’s all kinds of stuff found in beers these days: cucumbers, pumpkins and, for one small Spokane brewery, local, nearly spoiled plums.
The fruit was repurposed with help from a nonprofit that aims to cut down on food waste.
Thomas Croskrey is the co-founder, co-owner and head brewer here at Bellwether Brewing Company.
He poured glasses of Harvest Plum Ale. “The color on this is a little bit different,” Croskrey said. “It’s almost a thick kind of brown, or dark amber. A lot of that color is actually coming from the plums.”
Last fall, Croskrey acquired about 30 pounds of the fruit from the Spokane Edible Tree Project, a nonprofit that gleans fruit from trees and collects fruit that otherwise would go to waste.
“They said they had a lot of plums that were rejected from the food bank, because of superficial skin damage,” Croskrey said. “I don’t know if it was wind and hail or anything like that … so they said, ‘Can you make beer?’ and I was like, ‘Sure!’”
Croskrey mixed beer he made from the plums with another beer he’d been aging in a wine barrel with a special kind of yeast — brettanomyces. He said that yeast gives off some “wild, funky flavors.”
The result is a Belgian style tripel and Croskey said he tastes three distinct characteristics.
“Kind of the fruity plum aspect, dancing and playing with the fruity wine-ish piece from the barrel itself and then that funky, slightly sour brettanomyces flavor coming through and playing with the plum skin that was sour and bitter,” he said.
The brewery will donate a dollar back to the Spokane Edible Tree Project for every plum beer sold.
Croskrey said he’s up for another collaboration after the next harvest season.
“I dunno. I almost like the surprise,” he said. “Like if they end up with a ton of cherries or some berries or something like that, I am game.”