As I drove up to the brewery on a sunny fall morning, I noticed something out of the ordinary. There was another car parked out front, a car that I didn’t recognize as I rolled past the building into the back lot to park my own vehicle.
When I walked up to the bottle shop, I noticed a table set up outside the doors and a man standing over it. He suddenly raised a cleaver, and slammed it down onto a cutting board on the table. Alarming, somewhat…
It turned out to be Will Meyers, the brewmaster at New England’s legendary Cambridge Brewing Company, and he was chopping up a pumpkin. Will ended up spending the better part of the morning processing many Japanese kabocha pumpkins, halving and quartering them and then shredding them into pieces to be used in a beer.
That beer that day was a collaboration brewed on the Baby Brau system at Hill Farmstead, a small batch being brewed under Ryan Witter-Merithew’s Casita Cerveceria. It was also a collaboration with (the then yet-to-be-launched) Wunderkammer Bier, a side label created by brewer Vasili Gletsos. Not only would this be a pumpkin beer—a seasonal style of beer that Meyers and CBC are well known for—but it would also be spiced with a veritable kitchen sink of Japanese spices like yaki sushinori, yasai fumi furikake, yuzuri schichimi, mishima, and norigoma furikake (quite the mouthful, almost too literally).
That brewday brought with it smells that I’ve never before experienced. And the beer—Kabocha Theatre, a name riffing on the Japanese tradition of dramatic dance found on display at the Kabuki Theatre, plus of course, the pumpkin—was quite the experience, as well.