Fullsteam Brewery celebrates releasing its First Frost Persimmon Ale. They have been brewing this incredible winter ale for 12 years. Over the years, they have changed up the packaging, from bombers to 12oz to 16oz cans.
The recipe has varied a bit, too: adjusting yeasts, sugar additions, and even the persimmon mix. On lean wild persimmon years, they supplemented with farmed and cultivated Fuyu and Hachiya.
One thing they have never done: added spice like cinnamon, clove, or nutmeg. Nothing wrong with doing so; they have just always enjoyed the fact that the beer’s spice notes come solely from the fruit and from the Belgian yeast strain.
Alas, the true history of persimmon beer in the South is not they story to tell. It is the story of Black slaves and the traditions People of Color have passed down for generations. Frankly, they make an Americanized, colonized, and shelf-stable version. Michael Twitty speaks of the true history of persimmon beer in this excellent article. If you’ve read my words, you must read his.
First Froist Belgium Dark Strong Ale
Persimmon (Diospyros Virginiana) — literally, “fruit of the gods.” Sweet and savory, with natural notes of cinnamon and apricot, the orange-globed persimmon fruit truly is heavenly. But it’s not until after the first frost that persimmon turns from astringent and bitter to a luscious fruit worthy of the gods.
Fullsteam’s forager network supplies hundreds of pounds of native persimmons — a bountiful yield that produces a complex, fruit-forward, award-winning winter ale. The beer’s notes of holiday spices come entirely from the native persimmon and the beer’s Belgian ale yeast.
North Carolina’s first Good Food Award-winning beer back in 2013, and the brandy barrel-aged version of First Frost won in 2016. The Good Food Awards celebrates food and drink artisans that win in a blind tasting and meet rigorous environmental and social responsibility standards.
Fullsteam has won seven Good Food Awards over the years. To date, Fullsteam remains the only North Carolina brewery to ever win in the Good Food Awards, joining other multiple Good Food Award winners like Jester King, Almanac, and Allagash.
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