Fermentation Field

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This garden tells the age-old story of our favorite fermented beverages, and includes grains, hops, fruits, vegetables, herbs and other botanicals useful in crafting and flavoring beer, gin and vodka and other distilled spirits. Fermentation is a natural chemical reaction caused by enzymes produced by bacteria, microorganisms or yeasts.

Using wild yeast and souring bacteria, Crane Brewing Co. in Raytown crafts three main styles of beer: Farmhouse Ales, Berliner Weisses and American Wild ales. Co-founder Michael Crane hopes to create his wildly popular seasonal beet Weiss using Mammoth Red Mangel beets which will give the beer an earthy flavor and brilliant red color.

This variety, which has been around since the 1800s, grows to gigantic proportions (up to 20 pounds each!) but remain tender and deliciously sweet despite their size. Each year Crane uses about 1,000 pounds (or a pound per gallon) of beets for the fall release.

Before his beet beer was a success, Crane struggled in his experimentation with creating a delicious drink out of beets. In 2011, he originally home brewed a beet cream ale after his son, who is a vegetarian, suggested the combination Crane had not considered peeling the beets beforehand, which made the natural earthy flavor of the final product too excessive for the public’s liking. Fortunately, Crane prepared the beets differently after trial and error to produce a tart beer that has the perfect balance of natural beet flavor. Last year, Wine Enthusiast listed the beer No. 3 in the world and Men’s Journal ranked it the No. 1 beer in Missouri.

Key garden ingredients: Oats, barley, corn, wheat, hops, stevia, licorice, sage, savory, horehound, mugwort, ginger, beets

Partners in fermentation:

  • TILL American Wheat Vodka: Locally sourced from Kansas wheat, TILL Vodka is smooth and full-bodied and shares a “farm-to-cocktail” philosophy that complements Powell Gardens events, including the popular Cocktails & Constellations.
  • Tom’s Town: The Tom’s Town distillers have used hardy orange, an ornamental citrus species, and dill, juniper, sage, fennel, coriander and blue spruce tips to create garden party gin for various events.

Boozy Botanicals: Former lawyer Cheryl Bisbee uses herbs and other botanicals to enhance beverages and cocktails crafted using her botanically-infused syrups.