The Brinery (Ann Arbor, MI) aims to nourish the community with traditionally fermented foods, such as hot sauces, sauerkrauts, kimchi, and once again, tempeh. Tempeh from the Brinery has been on hiatus since the end of 2017, when they decided to focus on their core vegetable ferments. The Brinery staff, and fans, are excited to have it back.
“We always hoped to be able to return to the realm of tempeh, and are so happy to be doing so!” says David Klingenberger, owner of The Brinery. “The ability to have a raw, unpasteurized version available locally is rare. More people are looking for alternative protein sources for their health and the health of the planet and the re-launch of our tempeh has been met with a lot of enthusiasm.”
So, what exactly is tempeh?
“Tempeh is mold cultured bean loaf,” says Klingenberger. “It’s really cool.”
Originating in Indonesia, tempeh is made by introducing a starter culture of Rhizopus mold spores to soybeans and leaving the mixture in a warm, humid space. If that sounds a little off-putting to you, realize that the process is fairly similar to cheesemaking. The Brinery sources locally grown, non-GMO soybeans for their tempeh, ensuring a delicious product. The Brinery’s tempeh is the only raw, unpasteurized tempeh made in the midwest. It’s produced in several different forms: as a plain loaf, in burger patties, as “bacon” strips and as “chorizo.”
According to Klingenberger, tempeh is a unique delicacy that is a sponge for flavor. “The key to great tempeh is what you marinate and spice it with. Don’t be shy when adding flavors while cooking. If you need your tempeh imagination to be kickstarted, try one of our pre-marinated versions first.”
Typical tempeh can get the reputation for being a bit bland and bean-y. However, the Brinery’s tempeh burgers are anything but. Flavored with tamari, maple syrup, apple cider vinegar, the Brinery’s own Sriracha sauce, Porcini mushroom powder, and more, their tempeh burgers are full of umami depth. The burgers cook quickly on a hot grill, about 4 minutes per side, and provide a satisfying meat-free alternative.
To try The Brinery’s tempeh products for yourself, visit Argus Farm Stop, Sparrow Market, and White Lotus Farms. Follow their Facebook page and website for updates on new stores carrying their tempeh.