Foraging for Fireweed
On Wednesday, my girlfriend and I took a trip up to Snoqualmie Pass with the production team of the brewery I work for (Fair Isle) to forage for fireweed.
We're getting ready to brew the second batch of the beer we use fireweed in (Alexandra), so we needed to get more. We got a tip from the beer's namesake that the Snoqualmie Pass area was a great place to forage for it, so away we went.
We lucked out with the weather, as it was a bit cooler and kind of overcast, which made it easier for climbing hills and crossing streams while looking for fireweed.
The five of us that went were able to collect enough for the next batch. We had time to enjoy a pint at Dru Bru afterward, which was a refreshing way to finish a foraging outing.
As for fireweed itself, it's got a green tea-like character that adds a pleasant note to a saison. The first time I had an Alexandra, I thought they had used fireweed honey because the beer was very dry. In my experience, honey tends to dry out more as the sugars ferment out.
The head brewer also recommended downloading the iNaturalist app to get tips on where to forage any wild plant. I see a few fireweed outcroppings near home on the app, so when I get to fermenting at home again (soon), I might try to make a small batch of tea-based mead with what I'm able to collect. Wish me luck!
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