A Dairy Farm, Craft Breweries and Giant Pumpkins

Dairy farmer Leann Krainick says one of her favorite fall beers has to be a pumpkin IPA or, for a real treat, a pumpkin stout beer with ice cream.  

Leann gives her recommendation on good authority.  After all, she considers her dairy farm to be an important part of the beer community in Washington State. 

Leann and her husband Mike operate a 3rd generation dairy farm thirty-five miles southeast of Seattle, WA where they milk black and white Holstein and brown jersey cows.  The milk produced at the Krainick Dairy gets shipped to Darigold and is available in your local dairy case.  But that isn’t the end of the story.  We promised a connection to the beer industry in Washington, didn’t we?

The connection is a big circle and it starts with the spent grain coming from local breweries.  The Krainicks feed spent grain from local breweries to their cows as part of a balanced diet.  Leann says, “Washington dairies and beer makers have been working together for over one-hundred years. A century ago, the majority of spent grain in Puget Sound came from three breweries, Rainier in Seattle, Heidelberg in Tacoma, and Olympia Beer.” Leann goes on to say, “In 2007 when the last of the big breweries closed, we started hauling spent grain from smaller craft breweries and have since been able to grow along with consumer demand for micro craft brews.  Right now, we service 15 breweries and distilleries in Puget Sound including Elysian.  That partnership keeps 2-3 Million pounds of spent grain out of landfills every month.”

The Krainicks, and many other dairy farmers in Washington State, work with animal nutritionists to monitor their cow’s diet and nutrition.  The spent grain they bring in from breweries is analyzed and the farm nutritionist balances the nutrients in the grain with other available feed to ensure each cow is fed a healthy, balanced diet. This balancing effort requires adjusting throughout the year as feed becomes more or less available and the nutritional needs of the animals vary by season. 

Beer and dairy don’t part ways at spent grain.  There is another important piece to the Krainick Dairy business – Scarecrow’s Pride.  If you have ever wondered what is done with manure on a dairy farm – Krainick Dairy is an example of how dairy farmers recycle at every juncture.  In 2011, the Krainicks began processing and bagging their manure as a certified organic soil amendment called Scarecrow’s Pride. Leann says that her customers flock to her in droves because Scarecrow’s Pride has shown such amazing results for vegetables, flowers, and lawns alike.  At this time of year, Leann is especially pleased to see how Scarecrow’s Pride nurtures another prized commodity: giant pumpkins.  In fact, this year’s giant pumpkin was grown in Scarecrow’s Pride by Joel Holland of Sumner and weighed in at 1,713 pounds! 

We’re not done connecting the dots. In the end, Mr. Holland’s giant pumpkin was tapped and held 5 kegs of Elysian Night Owl Pumpkin Beer at the Elysian Beer Festival in early October. That’s something to be thankful for and, if you’ve ever attended the Elysian Beer Festival, you might agree. The festival also features pumpkin menu items at every food truck – including beer flavored ice cream at the Blue Bird ice cream truck – costume contests, a marching band and much more. 

Cows eat spent grain from breweries.  Manure from dairy cows gets recycled as organic soil amendment.  That soil amendment grows plants and vegetables like giant pumpkins that hold your favorite Elysian Beer Festival Beer.  See, we told you we’d come full circle.

Check out the Elysian Beer Festival website and, if you see Scarecrow’s Pride on local shelves, pick up a bag to feed your lawn and gardens.  With help from Scarecrow’s Pride, you might grow the next giant pumpkin.