On the Fritz Almond Beer
On the Fritz the finished product moments before tasting.

Source: The Almond Board of California

For years, people have enjoyed almonds in various forms, from almond flour to almond butter to almonds as an ingredient in yogurt. Today, a new use for almonds continues to grow in popularity: almond beer. This trend is slowly making its way through the craft beer scene, and Almond Leadership Program (ALP) participants Dominique Camou and Lucas Schmidt want more than just a sip — they want to get involved in the process from top to bottom, from kernel to keg.

Camou and Schmidt are teaming up with Temblor Brewing Company to host an “On the Fritz” almond beer tasting and fundraising event on Saturday, June 1. The event will begin at 5 p.m. at Temblor Brewing in Bakersfield, and $1 of each sale of “On the Fritz” beer will be donated to California Future Farmers of America (FFA).

From Kernel to Keg: A Project Come to Life

Each year, Almond Board of California (ABC) Leadership participants are required to work on a special project that they will then present to their classmates, mentors and the ABC Board of Directors at the end of the year-long program. The purpose of the project is to challenge participants to take a deep dive into a topic that interests them, to try a new technology or innovative practice on their operation, or, as is the case with Camou and Schmidt, to explore a new or novel idea that advances the industry in some capacity.

“On the second day of our class’ orientation, Lucas and I started bouncing ideas off each other for our special projects. We soon realized that we had one idea in common — to create almond beer — and we decided to team up. From there, the project has taken off,” said Camou, who works as a grower relations representative at Famoso Nut Company, LLC.

On the Fritz at Temblor Brewing Company.
On the Fritz at Temblor Brewing Company.

As a first step in their project, Camou and Schmidt decided they wanted to work with a brewery located in the Central Valley to create the beer, as this would allow them to work more collaboratively with the brewery and also to support a local business. The pair considered breweries from Woodland to McFarland, where Schmidt and Camou reside, respectively, until one day an almond grower offered to connect Camou to Don Bynum, the CEO of Temblor Brewing Company. After sitting down with Bynum and others, including Chad DeRose, CEO of Famoso Nut Company, Camou and Schmidt found themselves a brewery — Bynum welcomed the opportunity to collaborate on creating almond beer with “open arms,” according to Camou.

From there, Famoso Nut Company worked to provide Temblor Brewing with almonds to begin experimenting with the flavor. Temblor determined that different almond varieties could impact taste, and so they brewed one batch of beer using the Monterey variety and another batch using the Fritz variety. Camou and Schmidt then invited friends and fellow Leadership participants to an informal tasting where the group compared the two beers. In a majority vote of 11-5, the Fritz variety proved itself as the clear favorite.

Then came the challenge of choosing a name.

“We tossed around ideas like ‘Kernel of Truth’ and ‘Liquid Crunch’, but once the Fritz variety came out on top choosing the name ‘On the Fritz’ was a no-brainer,” said Schmidt, who works as the director of Crop Protection and Plant Nutrition at Grow West.

Proceeds to Support Future of CA Agriculture

In 2011, the Almond Board hosted its first silent auction fundraiser for California FFA at The Almond Conference, and in 2016, the Leadership program took ownership of the auction and raised funds for high school students looking to pursue careers in agriculture.

To date, the Leadership program has raised more than $100,000 for California FFA. And while this year’s class set a goal of raising $20,000 for FFA students, participants like Camou and Schmidt are looking to far exceed that goal.

“California FFA trains and prepares passionate students to take on important roles after high school, and we as Leadership participants take seriously the Almond Board’s charge to support an organization that’s so crucial to future of California agriculture,” said Schmidt.

You are invited to join Camou, Schmidt and other industry members at the Temblor Brewing Company on June 1 at 5 p.m. to try “On the Fritz” almond beer and enjoy a night out with the California almond community. And if you would like to support the 2019 Almond Leadership Program’s efforts to raise funds for California FFA, click this link to learn more about donation opportunities.

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