Sunday, May 01, 2011

Fermentation: Weird and natural!

Had an absolutely delightful visit to Buffalo Trace Distillery for a tour — five years after having gotten married there. Lucy and I offered the tour as an option for guests at our wedding but … we never got to take it! And now I know that it's fantastic.

I was in awe of these epic fermentation tanks; this is where bourbon starts: as a froth of fizzing grains and water. It was fairly impressive to glance over, but it became astonishing when I came to understand that this froth was not being circulated mechanically and was not being heated. It was moving entirely on its own, due to a giant chemical reaction going on over the course of about five days.

To me this was inspirational, bordering on spiritual. For all the badmouthing booze gets, it's pretty nature-approved. Hell, it's easier and more holistic to make mead or wine than it is to make Coca-Cola. So people — shut up and have a drink.

Buffalo Trace uses these fermenting tanks to produce over a dozen celebrated brands of bourbon. If you're into bourbon, or spirits distillation, or if you just love a good "factory" tour, this one's well worth your time. I plan on doing the tour again and maybe again. It was that interesting to me. Oh — here's some photos.

Also, this reminded me that it's time to get busy reading Wild Fermentation and seeing what kinds of kitchen experiments can come of it.

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