Weavers Way Gets Very Special 40th Anniversary Tribute from Earth Bread + Brewery

Philadelphia, PA, Oct. 8, 2013 — How do you get Weavers Way members to vote FOR carbon dioxide? Brew a beer in honor of the Co-op’s 40th anniversary, and ask them to come up with a name for it.
The still-anonymous ale was created by Mount Airy’s Earth Bread + Brewery. Weavers Way members can go to Survey Monkey (www.surveymonkey.com/s/S8KBSZK) all week to vote on the name, and members and non-members alike will be able to quaff samples at the cooperative grocery’s 40th Birthday Bash Sunday, Oct. 13. The party is being held at Cliveden, the 18th-century Chew family home in Germantown, and the public is welcome.
Earth, which is celebrating a milestone of its own – five years – on Wednesday, Oct. 9, will also offer the beer during its weeklong celebration Oct. 8-14.
Tom Baker, the brewer at the popular restaurant and brewpub at 7136 Germantown Ave., decided on a bière de garde, a French pale ale originally made in winter to drink the next summer (“bière de garde” = “beer to store”). “For the anniversary, I wanted to do something I know,” he said. “I’ve made probably 100 bières de garde — it’s a style I like.” At about 7.2 ABV, this bière de garde is a little stronger than average. It's also different in that Baker tweaked the flavor with arugula and sorrel from Weavers Way Farms.
“Good French bières de garde have a kind of peppery quality. That’s what the arugula is for,” Baker explained. “Sorrel is the wild card. Nina [Berryman, Weavers Way’s farm manager] suggested it.”
While Earth purchases a lot of Weavers Way Farms produce for their flatbreads, the collaboration goes in the other direction too. The brewery’s spent grain is delivered to the two farms, at Saul High School and Awbury Arboretum, where it enriches the compost piles. The Saul dairy cows also find it delectable.
The budvar lager yeast was also cultivated nearby. “We’re getting the yeast from Iron Hill — another example of local cooperation,” Baker said. The barley was grown in Belgium and malted in France — “very apropos for a bière de garde, but not very local,” Baker commented. He recently found a source for barley grown near Harrisburg and malted in Massachusetts, but not in time for the Weavers Way anniversary brew. The hops are East Kent Goldings (English) and Styrian Goldings (Czech Republic). “I got some hops from Sedgwick Street once. Somebody was just growing them,” Baker said, adding, “The trouble with using hop flowers instead of pelletized hops is they take up too much room [in the brew pot] because they soak up so much water.”
The Weavers Way anniversary ale is the 187th beer Baker has made at Earth, “all different recipes, except one — a Scotch ale called ‘We Heavy Yo.’ The kitchen named it.” Each of Earth’s 220-gallon fermenting tanks translates into about 15 kegs. Look for at a couple kegs at the Weavers Way festivities Sunday, and on tap at Earth until it runs out. “Bières de garde go quick, this might last two weeks,” Baker warned.
Weavers Way anniversary ale will be only one of the attractions of the Co-op’s 40th anniversary party. Food tastings, great grilling, music, games for kids and special membership activities are planned all day long. More information is available at www.weaversway.coop.