Jul 9, 2012

Snoqualmie Brewery Preliminary Hike Recap


A couple weeks ago Courtney Ford, brewer at Snoqualmie Brewery, and botanist Jim Demetre headed out on a preliminary BMBW walk in Carnation, Washington. They scouted out and tasted a number of plants that we would pass on our four day, 45+ mile walk from Seattle to Snoqualmie Falls at the end of July for a project called The Long Walk, started by artist Susan Robb, which BMBW is a part of. Courtney is brewing a beer that will have ingredients from the trail. During the four-day walk, when we pass through Carnation, we will stop for a formal dinner and the beer will be served to the 50+ walkers. Here are some photos from this preliminary hike, along with information about identified plants and the beer that Courtney has brewed for the group.

 Botanist Jim Demetre sampling some plants on the trail.
 A review from Jim:
Courtney and I spent two hours walking along the Snoqualmie Valley Trail tasting every plant we came across....
There were very few berries or flowers available to eat, so we spent most of our time tasting the new leaves and shoots of the various trees, shrubs and herbaceous plants. Of the berries we tried the watery Salmonberry (Rubus spectabilis) and the dark, musky Indian Plum (Oemleria cerasiformis). As far as the flowers were concerned, we ate some fragrant, lightly sweet petals of the Nookta Rose (Rosa nootkatensis). The Red Huckleberry (Vaccinium parviflorum), the Thimbleberry (Rubus parviflorus) and the Oregon Grape (Mahonia nervosa) were not yet ripe, though they may be my the time of the Long Walk. The Evergreen Huckleberry (Vaccinum ovatum) will ripen in the fall....

We also chewed on a variety of roadside weeds that didn't leave much impression. One exception was the Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica) which tasted fantastic but more as a sauteed side dish than a beer ingredient. We came across a very common weed known as Catch Bedstraw (Galium aparine) that we did not eat due to its coarse texture and sharp edges. I mentioned that this plant was related to Sweet Woodruff (Galium odoratum) which was once dried and used to flavor wines in Northern Europe and she seemed interested in trying it.
Jim and Courtney identified a number of other plants as well. The Stinging Nettle really stood out to Courtney and she thought it would be a nice challenge, so the beer we will drink during The Long Walk will be a special Stinging Nettle beer and is called Naughty Nettle Ale. Here's what Courtney says about it:
After doing some research, I discovered that nettle beer has been made for centuries in England. However, even though traditionally it does not use malt of any kind, I made a mash of 2-Row and a splash of Munich malt, for color. Now to stick with the tradition - During the boil I added around 2 bags stuffed with hand picked nettle tops (even with gardening gloves on, I still got stung alot!), ginger root to compliment the natural nettle flavors, fresh squeezed lemon juice and honey. I also added centennial hops for bittering and for their wonderful citrus flavor. Lastly, for the magical fermenting critters, California Ale Yeast. All in all, I think this beer turned out amazing and I will definitely do it again. ABV: 6.5%

All photos (except the last one) were taken by Stephanie Ellendt.