Garden Path Fermentation - The Whole Sum Parts. (Rare Beer Club Exclusive)
Serving Temperature:42–49° F
Suggested Glassware:Nonic, Stange, or Tulip Glass
For our annual collaboration with the Pints for Prostates organization, we’ve worked with the folks over at Garden Path Fermentation on a very special beer for this Rare Beer Club exclusive. This release, The Whole Sum Parts., is a custom blend of four different beers, ultimately creating a hoppy amber ale that doesn’t fit very neatly into any predefined style. The blend combines a barrel of beer heavily dry-hopped with Ekuanot, a hoppy table saison, an English-style bitter, and a tart amber bière de garde, and is naturaly conditioned with local honey.
We worked with Garden Path and Rick Lyke over at Pints for Prostates to put this blend together, and we’re looking forward to getting this tasty release out to our RBC members. This will be available exclusively through the club and Garden Path’s taproom.
Pints for Prostates is a grassroots campaign that raises awareness among men about prostate cancer and the importance of early detection, and was founded by beer journalist Rick Lyke back in 2008. While Rick would normally host the annual (and much-anticipated) Rare Beer Tasting out in Denver each fall, pouring this collaboration beer alongside a bunch of other rare, incredible beers—not surprisingly, the Great American Beer Festival and the Rare Beer Tasting won’t be happening this year. (Rick will instead be hosting a virtual tasting this fall.)
The Whole Sum Parts. pours a deep golden-amber hue. An immediate honeyed-malt aroma brings with it some of the fruit and herbaceous character of the Ekuanot hops, as well as the subtle funk and spice from Garden Path’s native yeast. We found berries and fresh apples upfront, along with lightly tart citruses and hints of melon and eucalyptus. Expressive fruit and bitter herbs throughout this beer.
This dry-hopped, blended beer from Garden Path proves to be quite substantial overall: with firm but delicate underlying bitterness. Its bitterness and subtle acidity (plus barrel impacts) provide much of the key underlying structure. There’s firm fruit, subtle tropical notes, plus layered bitterness and blended character that takes this beer well beyond one’s normal expectations for an amber ale. Subtle acidity upfront is complemented by the expansive, herbal impacts from the Ekuanot hop, appearing almost lemon-lime in context, with engagingly bitter herbs.
There’s a whole lot to dig into with this exclusive release from Garden Path—from its bold blending, to expressive hops, to the subtle barrel impact—and we’re thrilled to celebrate its release in tandem with Pints for Prostates and Garden Path. As the latter phrased it: “This beer, the combination of a barrel heavily dry-hopped with Ekuanot and three finished beers (a table beer, an English-style bitter, and a tart amber), is unlike any of the components on their own—and, some might even say, greater than the sum of its parts.”
We’d suggest drinking this on the fresher side for optimal hop impact. The core aspects of tree fruit, herbs, toasty malt, and the light undertone of tartness have us looking to pair this with roasted chicken, or some creamy cheeses and fresh seasonal fruit.
Garden Path Fermentation up in Skagit Valley, Washington has been crafting some of the most ambitious, successfully executed beers out there, and this month we’ve got a Rare Beer Club Exclusive secured from these folks: Garden Path’s delicious blended hoppy amber ale, The Whole Sum Parts. Garden Path’s beers are bottle conditioned and yeast driven while focused on showcasing the region’s wealth of locally grown ingredients—even making cider, wine, perry and mead from Skagit Valley ingredients. They use 100% native yeast, but specifically cultivated their house culture to focus on native Saccharomyces (the genus that includes most traditional brewer’s yeasts) rather than a pungent or acidic strain. They focus on making balanced, nuanced, drinkable products—uniquely produced in the Skagit Valley.
Founders Ron Extract and Amber Watts may be familiar names to some of you, as both are coming from positions at Jester King Brewery in Austin, Texas. The pair wanted to realize a brewery with their own unique vision at the core, and Skagit Valley has proven to be optimal for them realizing the kind of hyperlocal, native-yeast-driven brewery they wanted to build. Garden Path’s house culture was largely developed with their original lead fermentationist Jason Hansen, who’d come to Garden Path from the illustrious Sante Adairius Rustic Ales in Capitola, California. (He’s since transitioned to a less-rural gig and to Garden Path’s advisory board.) What Skagit Valley lacks in proximity it makes up for in many other things, though. The cooler temperatures and lack of summer heat, for instance—highs generally stay below 80—make for great fermentation conditions for a brewery focused on native yeast.
Everything that Garden Path does is typically blended to taste, with batches often separated into different fermentation vessels before being re-blended afterwards. Their emphasis on a native house culture and using open fermentation and oak foeders benefits from the lack of high temperature swings. It also reduces their need for artificial temperature controls. Every edition of a beer is approached as a recreation of a theme rather than a fixed replication, so these beer lines will further develop and evolve as additional editions are brewed. Ultimately, Garden Path Fermentation’s looking to take people in directions they don’t expect to go.
We’ve been loving everything we’ve tried from Garden Path up in Skagit Valley, and this month we’re excited to bring the brewery’s The Whole Sum Parts. to the Rare Beer Club. This is a four beer blend, that falls broadly within the saison and bière de garde tradition. The inclusion of Ron’s Not Bitter., the brewery’s riff on a traditional English bitter, in combination with Amber Dreams of Electric Sheep., their take on an amber bière de garde, The Little Horse Around., a hoppy table saison, and a single barrel that was aggressively dry-hopped with Ekuanot hops, make this blend especially unique and enjoyable.
Like everything we’ve had from Garden Path—this beer heads in some surprising, delicious directions. If you’re up in Washington, Garden Path’s tasting room opened up in April 2018. They’re just a little over an hour north of Seattle. Find more about Garden Path and current visiting info at www.gardenpathwa.com.
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