The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

A Tale of Two Ryes

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wally's picture
wally

A Tale of Two Ryes

There is rye, and then there is rye.  The chief difference is this: with one you bake with and the other you distill. The ingredients (not surprisingly) are remarkably similar, as is the process in many respects.  And both finished products are equally capable of eliciting hurrahs!


This past weekend I was fortunate to be able to straddle both worlds.


My friends Scott and Becky decided a little over a year ago to pursue a dream - to open the first licensed (aka legal) distillery in Loudoun County, Virginia since Prohibition.  The joint decision was reached after Becky, who is a chemical engineer, finally got fed up with Scott's verbalized longings and said in so many words, "ok, show me a business plan and we'll talk."  Thus began a grand adventure for them that led, first to a custom built still from Germany. (Is that not just flat out beautiful!)



And that was followed this past Friday,with a Grand Opening of the Catoctin Creek Distilling Company. 



It was a wonderful affair, full of bagpipes (Scott and Becky both claim Scottish heritage, including a fondness for Robert Burns that culminates yearly in a dinner in his honor accompanied with much fine Scotch and haggis - I myself draw the line at scrapple). And there were friends and governmental officieries to boot!



Now, what is interesting for us bakers, is that they are producing both rye and gin from organic rye flour courtesy of Heartland Mill in Kansas (are you there proth5?).  Each batch of mash is made using 700 lbs. of rye flour (that's 14 bags of 50# flour) which is brought up to the mouth of the cooker using a forklift.  In addition to water, various enzymes are added - amalyze being prominent - and then yeast which goes completely wild.  The resulting 'porridge' after 12 hours is sweet and very reminiscent of gingerbread.  From there the liquid is pumped into the still, while the leftover solids are given to local farmers who use it to produce 'happy' cows and 'happy' pigs.



Well, it was obvious to me that the only fitting present for the Grand Opening was a loaf of, what else, rye?  So I baked flaxseed rye from Hamelman's Bread. I made two loaves and scored one with a straight cut and the other with a sausage cut. 



As you can see, cutting isn't just decorative, but really impacts the shape and crumb of the finished loaf. (Scott and Becky got the straight cut loaf, so I can't include a crumb shot.  However, here's what the sausage cut loaf yielded.)



The next day, Saturday, a bunch of us volunteers returned to bottle 360 bottles of Roundstone Rye in a little over 2 hours.  For those of you interested in seeing how a micro-distillery works, you can watch this.


In an unabashed plug I'll note that Scott and Becky just a little over a week ago were awarded a bronze medal in a competition sponsored by the American Distilling Institute for their un-casked Mosby's Spirit Rye.



Rye and rye, bread and whiskey.  Is it any wonder we celebrate these gifts of nature!



Larry


 


 

Comments

mcs's picture
mcs

That still is awesome.  It looks like something out of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.  It's neat to see the community getting behind it too.  Thanks for sharing.


-Mark

wally's picture
wally

Mark - Yeah, I was really blown away when I first set eyes on the equipment.  I mean, bakers have cool stuff too, but nothing quite like a German still.


Larry

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Your rye breads look wonderful!


This is the bread I used to illustrate the sausage and chevron cuts in my scoring tutorial for TFL, BTW. (Yours look better.)


David

wally's picture
wally

comes around.  Thanks David. Actually, I had in mind the sausage cuts from your tutorial when I scored the rye.  But I hadn't realized it was the same bread.  Good flavor, though!  (And it pairs nicely with a Roundstone rye old fashioned and goat cheese).


Larry

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Thank you for sharing your adventure and friendship with these brave folks.


Eric

wally's picture
wally

I'm still amazed everytime I go out there that they actually pulled it off.


Larry

proth5's picture
proth5

sure am out here.  And wouldn't mind a wee dram o' the liquid gift 'o the grain.


But don't ye be bad mouthin' haggis near me!  Oh I love me haggis! Great cheiftain o the puddin - race!


An' what a beauty tha' wee great still is! 


(Typing in a Scottish brogue isn't easy.) (Ah, I do miss the wee great lochs and mountains of my once home away from home.)


I wish them great success and wonder where they will they be selling this product...


Nice bread,too!

wally's picture
wally

and I'm sticking to my scrapple.  So far they're just selling locally through Virginia's ABC stores.  But I know they have big plans - Scott posted their website below if you want to learn more.


As for me, I have a good local source for great organic rye flour now!


Larry

proth5's picture
proth5

Well, when I'm not in Okinawa or at home on the high prairie I will be doing a little work that takes me to the DC area.  I'll look out for the rye when I'm there...


Yes, the Roth clan is one of the lost clans of Scotland.  Mostly because we are PA Dutch (to the bone!) so I know my scrapple well.  But haggis...mmmmm.  I used to consult for a company where the cafeteria cook would cook us up a big batch with neeps and taties. How could I not love that?


I will also check out the website.  Thanks!


 

scohar70's picture
scohar70

Thanks for the post, Larry.  I'm with proth5, ye better keep yer stinkin' hands off me haggis!


Before we distill, we ferment for about 3-5 days using distiller's yeast.  (Think if Chuck Norris were a yeast... yeah, that's it.)


More information at www.catoctincreek.com!  Cheers!


PS - The rye bread was as delicious as it looked... but it's sadly all gone now.

wally's picture
wally

I'm about to have a similar experience involving the 'other' rye.


Larry

Debra Wink's picture
Debra Wink

Congratulations and best wishes to you and your wife---that still is a thing of beauty :-)


Very nice story, Larry! Thank you for sharing it with us.

wally's picture
wally

I think you and Becky could have a lot of interesting discussions - whether over rye or rye or both....


Larry

koloatree's picture
koloatree

It is awesome when folks come together for food, business, and support!

wally's picture
wally

They're really leveraged family and community to help make this happen and everyone's proud.


Larry

Candango's picture
Candango

Nice post, Wally.  I will have to check out the website and see where the distillery is located.  Catoctin Creek (or a bridge over it, anyway), used to be on my bicycle touring route from Vienna, VA out towards Leesburg, so it can't be too far away.  I prefer Scotch to Rye, but as far as the breads are concerned your two loaves of rye looked great.  And while I can handle haggis (if it has enough pepper), being a Yank I still prefer scrapple.  Cheers.  Bob

wally's picture
wally

Thanks for the support Bob, I was feeling outnumbered by the haggis clan!  The distillery is located in Purcellville, so west of Leesburg about 20 minutes by car. 


The rye's a keeper, I'll be baking that again!


Larry

txfarmer's picture
txfarmer

So cool! I have to say I am fond of both rye usages. Congrats to their grand opening and best of luck! Your breads look great too.

wally's picture
wally

I favor dual usage of the grain as well.


Larry

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

Great looking photos and your rye looks absolutely delicious.  Thanks for sharing!


Sylvia

wally's picture
wally

I'm growing fonder of ryes all the time, although there never seems to be enough cold water and paper towels to keep it off of me when I work with it.


Larry

DonD's picture
DonD

It is great to see people with such passion. That still is a real beauty. Congratulations to Scott and Becky for realizing their dream and to you Larry for your gorgeous Rye loaves.


Don

wally's picture
wally

Still working on my next batch of croissants and pains au chocolat.  Stay tuned....


Larry

LindyD's picture
LindyD

That's sure a beauty.  And the rye's not bad looking either (the bread, of course)  ;-)


A great start to a new business - congrats on the sweet smell and taste of success!


And lucky you, Larry, for such easy access to Heartland's rye.  


 

wally's picture
wally

Thanks Lindy!  After reading proth5's wonderful description of his trip to Heartland Mill, I looked at my current rye source and wished for better.  And what would luck have it, I visited the distillery and there I found pallet upon pallet of this wonderful rye.  Now to begin baking it instead of drinking it (...or along with).


Larry