From Sorghum Checkoff
Launched in June 2021, Soonish – Natural Beer, is aiming to diversify the traditional beer market. Founders Chip Welsh and Greg Maiatico desired to create a beverage that reflects beer traits while having the digestive benefits of natural ingredients.
One of Sorghum Checkoff’s goals is to break into emerging domestic markets and diversify sorghum use in existing markets. Sorghum was selected by Soonish as one of the product’s primary ingredients because of its gluten-free and all-natural value-added traits.
Soonish Head Brewmaster Jon Carpenter was introduced to unique, globally brewed beverages traditionally made with sorghum by one of their brew advisers, Sam “Chewy” Chawinga. Carpenter, Welsh and Maiatico realized it would pair well with the beer’s previously selected ingredients.
The team dove into investigating sorghum including its sustainability metrics, impact on the environment and natural biological traits. After researching sorghum’s protein levels, and starch and sugar content, the team concluded the product would ferment well, and, sorghum was added to their innovative ingredient list in addition to millet, banana and honey.
“The Soonish brand is dedicated to developing a naturally ‘better-for-you’ option that has minimal impact on the environment,” Carpenter said. “All of our ingredients are naturally grown and environmentally favorable. Sorghum is a responsible, drought-tolerant grain.”
Carpenter said the benefits sorghum offers as an environmentally sustainable ingredient allow Soonish to create a product that aligns with their personal values. Sorghum’s drought and heat tolerance are perfectly in line with the goals Carpenter has for their beer and is an important purchasing factor for their target market.
To capitalize on the market of gluten-free or gluten-intolerant individuals, Soonish and other brands have been utilizing sorghum to maintain a product with the nutritional benefits of grain without including gluten. Carpenter said using sorghum in their mixture allowed them to reflect “old world” brewing strategies with Soonish, which was one of the reasons sorghum was a beneficial and a crucial element of their ingredient list.
“It was simply one of the heritage grains that resonated with our team as we were developing Soonish with heritage brewing techniques as an inspiration,” Carpenter said. While the initial decision was based on sorghum’s nutritional and environmental benefits, sustainability and heritage grain title, the final call was made based on taste.
“In the end what made sorghum a primary ingredient in our final recipe was the fact that it tasted great,” Carpenter said. Due to the high level of fermentability and robust flavors that come with these ingredients, Soonish can also have a very light and relatively low carb (< 110 calories/ 6.2g carbs) natural beer that is gluten free, as well.
“We tested a plethora of grains but always came back to sorghum,” Carpenter said.
To learn more about Soonish and their spotlight on sorghum as a key ingredient, visit SipSoonish.com.