Cheers to a New Use for Almonds!
When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. But what if life gives you … almonds? How can you improve on such a good thing? When Grow West’s Lucas Schmidt, Director of Crop Protection & Plant Nutrition, joined the Almond Leadership Program in early 2019, he may not have predicted he would be a co-inventor of a new way to “toast” this savory nut—by using it to make beer!
The Almond Leadership Program, sponsored annually by the Almond Board of California, brings together almond community members for a one-year leadership training to address the challenges of a changing industry. Along with participating in field and plant tours, educational seminars, and workshops, the 2019 cohort was tasked with conducting an almond-centered project. Schmidt teamed up with another program participant, Dominique Camou, who manages Grower Relations at Famoso Nut in Bakersfield. Both Camou and Schmidt met for the first time during the Almond Board Leadership Program. Ironically enough, on day two of the program, the two hit it off and found themselves pursuing the idea of brewing almond beer.
They approached Temblor® Brewing Company in Bakersfield, who embraced the idea and worked with Schmidt and Camou to develop a recipe for “On the Fritz” beer, made with the Fritz variety of almonds. This Traditional Brown Ale has a generous portion of almonds added to the mash (brewing stage where the grain is mixed with water & boiled to make a sugar called “wort”). Then they are combined with the dry hop providing a toasty, nutty, malty ale with a smooth finish.
Fundraising for the Future
As part of the Almond Leadership Program, Schmidt and Camou, along with their 16 fellow participants, were committed to raising funds for California FFA program, and Almond Brown Ale served up a way to do that. The Leadership Program team hosted an Almond Brown Ale launch party in June which raised $16,000 for California FFA. In addition to that, Temblor Brewing Company offered to contribute $1/can for every can sold of the first batch of Almond Brown Ale.
Almond Brown™ Ale was also featured at the Leadership Program’s other fundraising events, including a golf tournament and summer dinner event.
“We put a lot into marketing and promotion, not only for selling more beer to meet our fundraising goals to support California FFA, but also to raise awareness about the versatility of almonds, which is an important commodity crop for California,” explained Schmidt.
The team’s other efforts included Almond Brown Ale sampling for lawmakers the night before Almond Festival at the State Capitol (hosted by the Almond Alliance of California) and showcasing the beer on the Capitol grounds as part of Almond Festival day activities. Events such as the Almond Festival at the State Capitol are essential in raising awareness of the California almond industry while also providing state legislators with a better understanding of the scope, size, value, and sustainability of California almonds.
Currently, the beer is being marketed as “Almond Brown Ale” and can be purchased on tap in two places in California: Temblor Brewing in Bakersfield, CA and Harris Ranch Inn & Restaurant in Coalinga, CA.
Moving the Mission Forward
Almond Brown Ale was met with such enthusiasm that Temblor is working on the 2nd batch to be canned this fall (October 2019), with Schmidt and Camou continuing to be invested in the venture.
“To bring things full circle, we will be featuring Almond Brown Ale at the Almond Conference in December,” adds Schmidt. “What started as a kernel of an idea has become a very tangible reality very quickly. We’d like to thank everyone who has supported this project, from the Almond Board of California and Temblor Brewing, to our many corporate sponsors, and all the people who came to our events and bought On the Fritz—as we originally called it—or Almond Brown Ale. It’s been exciting to watch the momentum build, and we hope it will continue.”
The team currently is working on distribution plans for its fall batch. For more information regarding the availability and product launch, don’t hesitate to reach out to email@example.com or 530-662-5442.