MILK & BEER?
Looking to batch some caramels one day, but being a bit short on milk, I started searching for something else to add to the already bubbling kettle. Digging in the back of the fridge, I came up with one lonely can of a local handcrafted beer. I dumped it in and when the batch was done, tasted the spoon used to stir the dark, sticky concoction. It was unlike any caramel I ever had. I wrapped a few, handed them out to friends and began selling them in my on site farm stand. When they started disappearing faster then I could make them, I knew I was on to something.
The concept of combining milk and beer is not a new one. Indeed, John H. Johnson one of the first specialist patent agents in England and founding President of the Institute of Patent Agents on its formation in 1882, applied for the first patent made with whey, lactose, and hops. Although he never made the beer, others did, combining similar ingredients and calling it milk stout.
Maine beer crafters make their brews with locally grown and sourced grains. They add other ingredients like chocolate, coffee, vanilla and spices. Combined into caramel, these flavors create a smooth, dark, rich, surprisingly complex taste.
From Portland to Union to Monhegan Island, on farms and city streets, artisan breweries are providing visitors and locals alike, a whole new social experience. Creating a caramel with these brews is like partnering with other like minded folk who have converted their barns at the end of long muddy lanes, opened cottage porches that beckon after a ferry ride, created cozy taprooms to relax in after a day of shopping. These caramels are a sweet ending that invokes what’s best about Maine, it’s people.
As a herds woman, the satisfaction of tending animals along the rocky coast of Maine and producing a product infused with the boldness of this place is what inspires me. Maine is not for the faint of heart. Neither are my caramels.
Mainers are hardy folk, full of an adventurous spirit, ingenuity and love of rugged individualism. I hope to convey that spirit in every bite of caramel from the Maine Caramel Company.