Ashley Kinard-Short, head brewer at Peak Drift Brewing Co. in Columbia, South Carolina, has embraced the opportunity to integrate locally sourced produce into the brewery's innovative beverage offerings. Collaborating with two renowned South Carolina produce producers, McLeod Farms and Coosaw Farms, Kinard-Short led the creation of two signature sours, incorporating McLeod's peaches, blueberries, and watermelon from Coosaw Farms.
McLeod Farms, established in 1916, is known for producing over 50 varieties of peaches on nearly 1,000 acres in Chesterfield County. Peak Drift's Peach Cobbler Sour Ale features some of these regionally renowned peaches. Coosaw Farms, located in Hampton County, supplied blueberries and watermelons for the brewery's Coosaw Watermelon Blueberry Sour. Coosaw Farms cultivates 120 acres of blueberries and 450 acres of watermelon.
Kinard-Short emphasized the importance of freshness for flavor, noting that sourcing ingredients locally ensures quality and freshness. The collaboration extended beyond the use of produce, with Peak Drift closely tied to local production. The brewery's 65,000-square-foot complex includes a 25,000-square-foot production facility where the fruit was processed in-house.
The production process involved pressing and pasteurizing sanitized peaches on-site, with the mixture separated into large totes for immediate use and freezing. Blueberries were also pureed and pasteurized at the brewery, while watermelons were processed off-site due to their size, with assistance from Coosaw Farms' partner, Seaside Farms.
Peak Drift's commitment to local sourcing extends to its labels, printed on the brewery's $4 million, 17-ton high-velocity commercial digital can printer. The brewery's efficient production process involves direct collaboration with local farmers, emphasizing quality, freshness, and financial viability.
The collaboration with South Carolina producers aligns with initiatives supported by the South Carolina Department of Agriculture, aiming to help farmers add value to their crops. Peak Drift's success in integrating locally sourced produce into its brewing process reflects a broader trend in the craft beverage industry, where consumers increasingly appreciate and seek out products that showcase regional flavors and support local agriculture.