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Emrys Fermentations plans to bring Eastern European fare to Liberty Lake this summer

UPDATED: Tue., April 20, 2021

By Kris Kilduff For The Spokesman-Review

If you do a quick delve into the past, you’ll discover that some of the greatest tales involve one of history’s most famous wizards of lore: Merlin. Stories describe him as a great sorcerer, prophet, bard and tutor and an adviser.

He has appeared in many forms: a young boy with no father; a bashful, transformed chipmunk; and classically as a wise old man freely giving his wisdom to a line of successive British kings.

Spokane brewer Thomas Croskrey is far too young to have sought Merlin’s advice but nonetheless is branding his new Liberty Lake mead-centric brewery around Merlin’s birth name: Emrys.

Meaning “The Immortal One,” Croskrey hopes that his new businesses at Wellington and Harvard, in the heart of Greenstone’s soon-to-be River District, will give him long-lasting roots in a city booming with potential.

With as many restaurants and breweries as there are in the county and surrounding areas, what makes Emrys Fermentations exciting is the promise of something different. You can walk around the corner of any city block and find a citrus-heavy IPA and a tasty burger.

Emrys, whose entire libation concept is mead, braggot and Old World beer, will have an accompanying “peasant food” menu that is unlike anything currently in the Inland Northwest.

“I want to provide something new and exciting for the culinary explorers out there while keeping it approachable enough for the modern palate,” he said.

“Our goal is to fill gaps – gaps between past and future, gaps between the farmer and end consumer, gaps between the common and uncommon.”

With his ambition comes help from culinary friends. Early in development, Croskrey sought the experience of chef Travis Dickinson, who owns Cochinito Taqueria. They worked together on beer dinners after Croskrey opened Bellwether Brewing with Dave Musser in 2015.

Dickinson quickly came onboard as an adviser and consultant, helping develop Emrys’ food menu, taking Croskrey’s self-titled half-hack list of grilled cheese sandwiches, hard boiled eggs and other ideas and making it something special.

It was then that Croskrey met Chef Jordan Obermeyer, who worked for Dickinson for a year before becoming executive chef at Durkin’s Liquor Bar.

Obermeyer was intrigued by the concept and wanted to help by bringing to life some of his family’s Eastern European recipes, including rustic, flavorful dishes such as goulash, pelmeni and runzas, an iteration of bierocks and pirozhki.

It wasn’t long before Obermeyer’s experience and knowledge cemented him into taking the reigns as the new chef of Emrys.

The team has spent a good part of the COVID-19 shutdown, which has delayed their construction process, developing relationships to source the best-quality local ingredients for Emrys.

“All of our base grain – whether that’s base malt for our beers and braggots or flour in the bread and pasta – will be sourced from Palouse Heritage in Endicott,” Croskrey said.

“The grains they grow and the methods by which they grow them yield superior flavor and nutrition while also growing in a fully sustainable manner – no synthetic fertilizers, biocides, etc.”

Buying direct from local farmers is something that has been lost in this new age of distributors. “All our honey used in our mead will be first sourced from local apiarists like Hamilton Hives, Birds of the Muses and Moose Meadow Apiary,” Croskrey continued.

And that goes for everything Emrys sources, as they often will have the exact coordinates that any given ingredient is harvested.

Mead is growing in popularity and making a comeback via pop culture. It has surfaced in video games including “World of Warcraft” and “Skyrim” and was a beverage of choice on the History Channel Canada’s “Vikings” and HBO’s “Game of Thrones.”

Emrys hopes to not only ride the wave of its popularity but also help translate forgotten recipes, revitalize the energy of Old World taverns and venture back to the world that Merlin might have known – something strange, something adventurous and something magical.

Emrys Fermentation is scheduled to open this summer. For updates, follow Emrys at facebook.com/emrysfermentations.

Kris Kilduff can be reached at kris.kilduff56@gmail.com.

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