In the fall of 2016, beer brewer Scott Hand of Monnik brewery in Louisville set his hand to the task of peeling 350 pounds of pawpaws, a fruit that grows on the pawpaw tree in Kentucky. After six hours, he was ready to go to work with Todd Blume of Paducah Beer Werks, brewing a pawpaw saison that would be unlike any other. The collaboration between Monnik and Paducah Beer Werks was part of the Kentucky Department of Agriculture’s new program that paired Kentucky brewers with Kentucky farmers under the Kentucky Proud banner.
“Kentucky’s craft brewing industry is growing by leaps and bounds,” said Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles. “The benefits are reaching our agriculture industry as our creative brewers add Kentucky Proud ingredients to their craft beers.”
Through the Kentucky Guild of Brewers, breweries are randomly paired to collaborate using Kentucky-farmed ingredients selected by the Kentucky Department of Agriculture. The collaborations foster creativity among brewers while supporting and promoting Kentucky farmers.
“There’s so much Kentucky has to offer,” says Todd Blume of Paducah Beer Werks. “And it’s fun. I can learn from others who have different brewing processes. That’s being a part of a community of breweries. And I don’t normally put fruit in my beers, so I learn from that.”
In 2017, Paducah Beer Works was paired with Jarfly from Somerset, and the brew was crafted here in Paducah. “We did blackberries, the state fruit,” says Todd. “That gave us a chance to involve another local business. I had the idea to use Purple Toad’s wine press. I didn’t realize how big of a mess it’d make! But we got the juice extracted, and one of the ladies there took what was left and made pies of out it, so all of the berry crop was used. We brewed a stout and injected the blackberries during the fermenting. It turned out great.”
The program has also highlighted local farms to breweries across the state, promoting local crops to a wider audience. In 2016, Great Flood Brewing Co. in Louisville and Ei8htball Brewing in Bellevue used pecans from Kight’s Pecan Orchard in McCracken County to craft a pecan pale ale.
Todd’s not sure what he’ll be working with this year, but he’s excited about the possibilities. Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Instagram for the announcement and a special tasting event with Paducah Life Magazine! Cheers!
Better BEER in the Bluegrass
Kentucky Proud and Kentucky’s craft beer industry work together to link growers, processors, and brewers to create new products with real farm impact. The project alone generates nearly $3,900 of revenue for participating Kentucky farms. The craft beer industry has rapidly expanded in recent years with more than 40 breweries in the state in 2017, up from 11 breweries just five years earlier, and an estimated 625 jobs, according to the Kentucky Guild of Brewers.