The Rain Barrels Down at Garden Path Fermentation

Did you know that beer is 95% water?  Skagit Farm to Pint has united water conservation, breweries, art, and Viva Farms to create the Skagit Farm to Pint Roadshow Rain Barrel Project!  Skagit PUD donated and delivered the rain barrels to the participating breweries before the beginning of the Skagit Farm to Pint Roadshow, artists painted the rain barrels, and Viva Farms will be donating the rain barrels to Viva’s Farm to School program!

Creativity at Garden Path Fermentation

Garden Path Fermentation creativity goes well beyond painting rain barrels. “In pursuing our creative philosophy, we use exclusively local ingredients, with over 98% coming from within 20 miles of our location, and ferment using only 100% native yeast, either from our house culture–which was originally cultivated from local flowers, plants, and berries and preserved from batch to batch for over 100 generations–or from naturally occurring microbes that we capture from the nighttime air; or, in the case of our wine and cider, from the fruit itself,” explains Ron Extract, co-owner of Garden Path Fermentation. Additionally, Garden Path does not limit itself to beer but makes wine, cider, mead, and various co-ferments, using local fruit and honey.

The Rain Barrels Down

Garden Path Fermentation product names are complete sentences and variations of Garden Path sentences.  Garden Path sentences usually involve a misdirect that can lead the reader or listener to feel at first as though they don’t make sense until they take a step back and rethink how the words fit together.  “A classic example is “The old man the boat,” which initially seems as though it’s missing a verb until one realizes that “man”, meaning “to operate,” is the verb and “the old,” meaning “the elderly” is the subject, so “the elderly operate the boat,” said Ron. “When we were assigned the rain barrel project, one of our team members rather cleverly came up with the title “The rain barrels down,” which inspired the art. Which is all to say, in short, we’re all hardcore geeks,” states Ron.

Approach to Brewing

Ron first took up homebrewing in college and then tried his hand at professional brewing a few years later, after leaving grad school, but craft beer was still in its infancy, and there weren’t a lot of jobs to be found.  “I spent several years working in other areas within the industry–first retail, then wholesale distribution, and eventually importing, before returning to the production tier,” explains Ron.  Garden Path is heavily influenced and inspired by many of the fantastic artisan breweries that Ron had the good fortune to work with at Shelton Brothers.  “We try to bring that spirit to what we do, but rather than trying to replicate what’s done elsewhere, we do so in a way that’s specific to our location in the Skagit Valley by creating products that make use of our abundant local resources and native microflora in a way that’s uniquely expressive of this beautiful place where we live,” said Ron.

Garden Path takes a different approach than most breweries.  “The biggest overall difference is that whereas most breweries tend to take what we like to describe as the “comfort food” approach, where they strive to recreate the same products again and again, eliminating any potential variables that could interfere with that process and achieving quality control by strict adherence to recipes and procedures, we exercise much more of a “farm to table” approach, where we focus on using whatever’s local and seasonal, embracing variability, and exercising quality control through a process of aging, blending, more aging, dumping what doesn’t make the cut, and curating the end product,” said Ron.  “As each batch will be different and our products are all literally alive, each bottle, can, or glass becomes a unique experience that can never be wholly repeated, which is what makes it so special,” concludes Ron.

Visit Garden Path Fermentation

Garden Path’s tasting room customers often comment on the awe-inspiring level of knowledge that the front-of-house staff has for Garden Path products and all of the other beer, wine, cider, and other beverages available in the Garden Path bottle shop.  “Those customers that are particularly drawn to our house-made products tend to prefer softer, more delicate and nuanced flavors, vs. those that are more obvious and intense, and who appreciate things that don’t always fit neatly into categories,” said Ron.  Garden Path takes pride in helping people reconsider their preconceptions and think differently about things they’d previously taken for granted.

Garden Path is excited to be able to get back into the world and share their story face to face, which’s been somewhat challenging to do for the last two years!  Grab your passport and visit the Garden Path tasting room and bottle shop at the Port of Skagit and if you’re there on weekends, ask for a tour; they would love to show you around!

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