Local foods infuse Stormcloud Brewing Company, from the food to the brewery and even the hands-on customer experience.
Stormcloud began with a mission to serve the local community, and to do that fully, a business must utilize local resources. Before opening, owners Rick Schmitt and Brian Confer asked a local farmer (me!) to grow organic produce for their kitchen, to be featured in seasonal pizzas and salads that reflect the changing available local offerings. Since the kitchen crafts everything predominantly from scratch with fresh ingredients, within the first year we installed a kitchen garden next to the brewery. This provides the chef with extended season (under low-tunnel raised bed system) ready access to fresh herbs and produce. When customers ask us where we source our ingredients, which they often do, we invite the
m to tour the garden! Not only do they see their meal ingredients, there’s a trellis system of Chinook hops scrambling up the wall of the brewery. For many, this is their first opportunity to see what these beer ingredients actually look and smell like. Stormcloud is proud to lead the movement of Frankfort urban food gardening!
What doesn’t grow in our garden or in the gardens of our farmer-type staff members, we first source at the farmer’s market or through local food distributors. Local foragers bring us mushrooms, ramps, asparagus, wild berries. The chef even led a foraging hike this spring, teaching our members how to locate local wild foods, followed up with a cooking with foraged ingredients and beer workshop at nearby Oliver Art Center! Frankfort’s Crescent Bakery provides our baked goods. Honor Market uses our beer and local meat to make our delicious brat bites. Whitefish Pate comes from Port City Smokehouse in Frankfort.
And the beer? Many of our beers utilize hops grown in our region. Our Leelanau Pale Ale series showcases a rotating locally-grown single-hop variety. Another beer annually brewed at harvest time, the 30:03 Harvest Pale Ale, uses fresh hops grown only 30 minutes north of the brewery and added to the brew kettle within 3 hours of harvest! Local grains, fruits, produce, maple sap, and honey also find their way into our beers.
In true respect of the closed-loop cycle of Mother Nature, we re-use waste products to literally grow the business. Garden waste is composted, to feed next year’s garden, supplemented with the neighboring furniture store’s composted rabbit bedding and City of Frankfort composted yard waste. Spent grains from brewing go to local livestock farmers, and we then benefit from the beautiful meat produced.
As a business we celebrate, utilize, and support our local foodways whenever possible.
Charla Burgess Kramer wears many hats with Stormcloud Brewing Company. She is involved with events and marketing, as well as the Beer Education Coordinator and gardener.