As the warm September sun burnished the gently rolling hills of Karamoor Farm in Fort Washington, a group of workers shuffled among the rows of plump merlot grapes in the vineyard, sharp shears in hand.
The purple bunches filled bright yellow tubs. A tractor pulling a flatbed picked up the tubs to haul them off.
It felt like harvest time in this corner of Eastern Montgomery County. But while Karamoor is, after all, a winery, these grapes will not age in oak barrels for more than a year before winding up in a bottle at the end of a cork.
These grapes - a small portion of Karamoor's yield - will be made into beer, in an unusual collaboration intended more as a fun partnering than a cold business move.
Karamoor, on about 240 acres bordering Skippack and Butler Pikes in Whitemarsh Township, has had grapevines in the ground for the last seven years, after owner Nicholas Karabots came to a realization about his gentleman's farm.
"Here we were, doing all these crops and losing money hand over fist," said Karabots, a printing magnate and, with his wife, Athena, philanthropist.
"I decided that there aren't many good real Pennsylvania wines. Why not do a good Pennsylvania wine that effectively will mirror the European mode - the dry wines?"
(Whether he is losing money hand over fist in wine now is a matter between him and his accountants.)
Karamoor wines are sold in state stores as well as at restaurants and bars, particularly in Southeastern Pennsylvania. Several are sold as tap wines, which is how Karamoor got onto Broillet's radar.
"We're basically neighbors," Broillet said.
Earlier in the summer, Broillet had been chatting with Karabots granddaughter Ali Duloc, who helps oversee the winery. An inveterate experimenter - as well as locavore - Broillet tossed out the idea of brewing a batch of saison, a wheat beer, using malt from Deer Creek Malthouse, out of Glen Mills, and then adding grapes from Karamoor.
Such wine-beer hybrid collaborations are not new; Sam Calagione at Delaware's Dogfish Head has made Noble Rot and Midas Touch, using out-of-state wines.
The Karamoor-Tired Hands collab would barely cross county lines. "Let's make it truly as local as possible," said Duloc, who ran the idea past her grandfather, who says he loved the idea.
That made Karamoor's decision to part with some grapes easier, though "not too many premier grape-growers will give up fruit they spent a whole season working on," Broillet said.
Tired Hands will condition two pounds of grapes per gallon of beer in a foudre, said Broillet. "This will also get so much color out of the fruit."
Broillet expects to net 15 to 20 barrels, enough for about 2,000 bottles.
They believe that the beer will be ready in about six months. "This type of beer is very much a journey," Broillet said. "It basically tells you when it's ready. It's a fun thing to watch it as it evolves."
"We just have to come up with a cool name together," Duloc mused.