Broken Pomaces

You’ll probably hear this from me a lot but one of the best parts of working at The Libertine, and in the Central Coast, is our unique access to Vineyards and Wine Makers. North of us are some of the best Petite Syrah and Cabernet Grapes I’ve ever tasted. South of us my new favorite varietal Grenache is making waves in every glass I find it in. Tyler’s passion for wine is infectious and it drives you to want to do interesting things with grapes and wine, and everything in between.

Last year’s harvest was insane for us. We were getting new grapes, unique varietals and workshopping with incredible winemakers at a rapid pace. At times it was daunting but always interesting and always a learning experience. For myself, I was constantly workshopping with those around me what we could do on the brewing side that is unique and different. I’m not one to criticize other people’s style because we are all on this journey with our specific goals in mind, but I get bored just brewing a base and putting fruit on it and calling a day. One of the things I respect the most about the winemaker (and consumers) palate is that no one enjoys a glass of wine and says, “wow, that really tasted like grapes!” We look for nuance, we strive for sensory memory, we want complexity.

This year, when Tyler and I were working with Curt Schlachlin and James Murphy at Sans Liege, trying to find the perfect Rosé blend for our Gosé /go-zay/ I was watching the destemmer with awe. This massive pile of detritus.  I mean massive, I am pretty sure I saw Hobbits venturing over this mountain to destroy a ring. Leftover stems, seeds, skins and anything else that wasn’t prime for the pureness of winemaking. I am told this specific version of trash is called Pomace. I am a sucker for misfits and broken things so I asked Curt if I could take some to use for a beer. He questioned my motives, we were using pure beautiful grapes, why would i want discard? I didn’t really know either, but there was something there.

In all honesty, my mind went to Chardonnay for some reason, but always trust your expert. Curt sourced some Zinfandel pomace (a personal fave) and had me come pick them up in Paso Robles. Xavier and Jesse, Curt’s Winemakers, also questioned what the hell I was up to when I got them. They had just pressed the juice and were reveling in how good the wine was going to come out. I didn’t really know, but our brewer Tony was whirlpooling and we needed to get them to SLO quickly. So back we went and dragged two totes full of pomace and lined the bottom of our coolships with them. Tony knocked out nice and warm and we let the beer do its thing.

The next morning we had a thick krausen forming around the branches and stems. The red light in our room reflecting on the wort like a sunset on a forbidden swamp. We transferred off a day later and brought it to our cellar where we moved it into spirit barrels. We released Broken Pomaces to our Bottle Club as part of the last release, and limited bottles are now available in our tasting rooms.

Stephen Ruddy

Head Brewer

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Monica DugganComment