(A Friend in Fermentation)
Tamworth Distilling has The Crabs!
The Tamworth Distilling & Mercantile, in Tamworth, NH, is well known for using local flora and grains in producing their distinctive spirits. Crab Trapper Green Crab Flavored Whisky is one of them.
Distillery founder Steven Grasse describes Crab Trapper as a “briny and better Fireball” with maple, vanilla, and caramel aromas, with cinnamon, clove, and allspice traces in the flavor.
How did Crab Trapper come to be?
Distiller Matt Power said the company heard about the problems caused by the invasive green crabs from the University of New Hampshire Extension’s Gabriela Bradt.
Gabriela Bradt, a fisheries specialist with the University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension and NH Sea Grant and consultant to the distillery, notes, “This collaboration is a unique and exciting opportunity to do that as well as help educate the public about green crabs, climate change and sustainability.”
The crabs came over on European ships in the mid-1800s, landed on Cape Cod, and multiplied.
These saucer-size crustaceans with a dark green color have disrupted the area’s marine ecosystem, outcompeting native species for food and shelter.
Bradt says the crabs are “so numerous that they have impacted shellfish habitats and fisheries because they are also voracious predators.” A good example, she said, was the soft-shell clam fishery, which has suffered millions of dollars in losses.
“Green crabs are incredibly invasive, so one of my goals as a researcher is to try and help create viable fisheries and markets as a solution to help mitigate the problem,” she explains.
How do you make crab whiskey?
A story filed in USAToday on 28 June 2022 tells the story from start to finish.
“The crabs, caught off the coast of New Hampshire by fisherman Dwight Souther, are taken to the distillery, where they are boiled to produce what Power called “a stout crab broth.” Power said the broth is fortified with alcohol then goes through a distillation process that separates out the funky smells of the crab from the more inviting aromas.”
“The goal, Power said, is to get rid of the smells he compared to tidal flats, leaving behind those that might be reminiscent of “the sea breeze on a warm day down by the coast.” Then, the distillery adds a corn and spice mixture that includes coriander, cinnamon, bay leaf, and mustard seed. That mixture is then added to the distillery’s bourbon cask that has been aged for several years.”
“The company said the body of this particular brew has hints of maple and vanilla oak and finishes with heavier notes of clove, cinnamon, and allspice. The distillery uses about a pound of crabs for each bottle of whiskey.”
‘Crab Trapper’ whiskey won’t get rid of invasive crabs.
Power admits that the distillery could never make enough Crab Catcher to significantly decrease the green crab. But there are other efforts underway to address the crab threat.
Since 2016 the NH Green Crab Project has been working to develop uses for the crabs, such as using them for bait and compost.
Ipswich, MA, offers a bounty to fishermen who remove Green Crabs from local estuaries. But until more such efforts can be implemented on a much larger scale, it is unlikely to have any significant impact on the Green Crab, continuing to be a menace.
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