Beer is a tough thing to drag into the whole “Farm to Table” artisan food scene. It is pretty easy to grow your own hops, at least in this area, though they are finicky. And it is theoretically possible to grow your own barley and malt it yourself – the process of allowing it to germinate, then stopping and drying it at exactly the right moment to produce good beer. But it’s a lot of work. And don’t get started about farming your own yeast, unless you’re willing to experiment with the unpredictable and sour wild varieties. So for the most part, even big brewers leave it to the pro farmers, maltsters and yeast producers to grow and prepare the ingredients that eventually go into the beer.
But that difficulty didn’t stop Almanac Beer Company of San Francisco from coming out with a “Farm to Barrel” series using other agricultural products from around Northern California. Their next release will be an “Heirloom Pumpkin Barleywine” using pumpkins grown by La Tercera Farms, which has fields near Bodega Bay. That should be out later this month.
Those pumpkins will also be part of “Gourd Grand Cru,” a bourbon-barrel stout available in August sometime, a brew to celebrate Almanac’s second anniversary.
Almanac tells me that they do distribute in this area, though some beers are only available on draft. It looks like the beers are available at Beercraft in Rohnert Park, the Whole Foods at Coddington Mall, along with locations in Healdsburg, Sonoma, and Petaluma. A beer finder list is here.
Almanac was founded in 2010 by homebrewers Jesse Friedman and Damian Fagan. They explain their one-off lineup of beers this way on their website: “Farm-to-barrel brewing is about selecting the best in locally sourced fruit and blending it into beers inspired by the great brewing traditions of the world. We aim to create something special and uniquely Northern Californian.”
– Sean Scully