Saturday, March 24, 2012

Notes from Harvest Moon's Sweet 16

Harvest Moon brewer Kyle McDonald
Another reminder of how craft brewing can integrate itself into a local economy ...

New Brunswick's Harvest Moon Brewery & Cafe celebrated its 16th anniversary with a beer dinner that included pork and beef produced by Rutgers University's agriculture program.

The ag program takes Harvest Moon's spent grain, sparing the brewpub disposal costs, and by feeding it to the cattle the program raises, the spent grain doesn't wind up in landfills.

Getting farmers to take the grain is a rather common practice among craft brewers, that is, when there are nearby farmers available (it's not always the case). So it may not seem like a big deal that Harvest Moon's spent grain ends up being dispatched in this fashion.

But in truth, the exchange, especially one in which a brewery finds a subsequent use for the spent grist, then in turn uses products the grain helped enable, well that makes a brewery something more than just a beer factory, and a brewpub something more than just a place to eat and drink.

Harvest Moon's relationship with Rutgers was a side point noted to patrons of Thursday night's dinner. After the dessert course of chocolate cake pops, head brewer Kyle McDonald was kind enough to take a few moments to explain the brewpub's interdependence with Rutgers' ag program, and how Harvest Moon's executive chef, Michael "Tank" DeAngelis, added Rutgers farm bacon and beef to the anniversary dinner menu.

Applause for Chef Tank DeAngelis
(The bacon was a topper to a first course of split pea soup, while braised short ribs were the main course. Beers on the night were an American-inflected mild that was amped up a little more than you might find in its English cousin; an abbey single/Belgian golden ale; a one-two shot of Irish stout and 10.5% ABV imperial stout. The finale was a barleywine that led with some hops but resolved to the warmth of its 11% ABV.)

From Kyle:

Rutgers obviously has a big ag department, and they raise a variety of different livestock. One of things they do raise is hogs.
(Taking the spent grain) is a big savings to the brewery and a sustainable thing for Rutgers in that they're giving back in the community.  
I don't think it affects their livestock feed budget at all, but they're kind enough to come and take it from us. They no longer feed hogs with it; they only feed the cattle.
Click to enlarge menu

Because I work directly with the gentleman who supervises their entire livestock program – he's the one I contact to come pick up (spent) grain and I'm on their email list – so whenever they slaughter anything and they open that up to public sales, I obviously get the heads up.

We had the beer dinner coming up, so I alerted Tank. We wanted to try to incorporate as much different stuff as we could. For the pork, he thought it would be good and easy to incorporate bacon in one of the dishes. So he grabbed 10 pounds of bacon right away.

The short ribs we had for the entreĆ© were from the cattle they raise; we got 15 or 20 pounds for the dinner. It kind of completes the full circle – livestock fed at least in part with our grain – returned back braised in our beer and served with the beer that fed either that cattle or other cattle.

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Caitlyn said...

Wow, this sounds awesome!! How did I miss this?! I love Harvest Moon, it's about 10 minutes from where I live. Are you going to/covering AC beer fest?

Jeff Linkous said...

AC beer fest will be a game-day decision. Looks like Allentown Beer Works cask event on 3/31 is looming larger on our radar.

Been to AC several times since 2006, its first year; Allentown looks to be offering something a little more interesting.