By Kayla Anderson
Biting into a beer-battered Willy Dilly pickle at Great Basin Brewing Company, a crunchy tangy sensation ricochets through my mouth. The pickles, provided by fellow Sparks business known as the Nevada Brining Company, are manufactured along with artisanal jarred carrots, peppers, onions, cauliflower, and beets yet sold all over the Silver State.
Nevada Brining Company is also famous for its Icky pickle- a collaboration with Great Basin to create a brine made with Nevada’s oldest brewery’s bestselling Ichthyosaur India Pale Ale and Juniper berries to bring down the bitterness of the beer hops.
Originally from North Virginia, Nevada Brining Company founder Matt Soter grew up with a garden and was used to preserving the vegetables out of it, canning tomatoes and making pickles. In 2002, Soter moved to the Silver State (Las Vegas) and then to Reno, making Northern Nevada his permanent home a few years later.
“I was 25 and wanted to go somewhere completely different,” Soter said. “I used Nevada as a leaping stone to see where in the west I wanted to settle down. Then this place had Tahoe in its backyard, the four seasons, the outdoors,” he says.
When he was in his early 30s, Soter experienced some severe health issues and eventually had his gallbladder removed. Suffering from gout, he saw a holistic healer who recommended that he take a shot of pickle juice a day to alleviate his symptoms. After 90 days of drinking pickle juice, Soter was off of his medication.
With a marketing background and becoming friends with chefs while working stints at high-end restaurants, Soter started researching local artisanal pickle companies and couldn’t find anything.
“In Vegas my friends were executive chefs in high-end restaurants and we would have grill outs or I’d meet them at a bar and bring a jar of pickles…it was a great way to get professional help. There are only a couple pickle companies that are successful in the US and none are located in Nevada,” he said. So in 2012, Soter started sourcing pickles from local farmers markets, Great Basin Community Food Co-op in Northern Nevada (and Whole Foods when he lived in Vegas), and then started experimenting with different flavors.
His first creation was the Boozy Pickle, which is a play off of the pickle back shot that one gets at a bar where someone chases a shot of whiskey with some pickle juice to neutralize the alcohol flavor. (It’s also rumored that the original name of it was the Big Mac because that’s what it tastes like when you marry the two flavors.)
Soter then came up with the Boundary Pepper, pickled jalapenos in a Thai basil brine. Some people may think the pickled peppers are spicy, but Soter went with a Fresno pepper that has more of a smoky taste than it is spicy so that it’s not so overwhelming.
“All of our pickle products are palatable and subjective,” he says. “I like the idea of taking two flavors that you don’t think would pair well together and they do. And I know hardcore people who’ll eat anything pickled- the weirder the better,” Soter adds. Dill pickles are the only traditionally-made product of the Nevada Brining Company- the rest are completely unique.
Nevada Brining Company also encourages people to consume the whole jar of not only the vegetables but also make use of the brine. Many of the brines can be used to make cocktails, and a couple can even be used as a vinaigrette salad dressing.
“My wife is a great mixologist and created a spicy Thai basil margarita called the Phuket made with the Boundary Pepper,” Soter said.
Since launching Nevada Brining Company in 2014, Soter has created around 200 recipes and sells seven pickled products to restaurants and shops in Nevada.
Manufacturing pickles out of the One World Kitchen on Spice Island Drive to sell all over Nevada, Soter is hoping to continue growing the business and possibly grow their own vegetables. “It would be nice to have everything happen under one roof,” he said. Producing 25-30,000 jars a year, Nevada Brining Company is also ramping up for expansion as larger grocery stores and markets are finding out about them.
Soter is grateful to have his business in Sparks, though, and not just because of the partnership with Great Basin Brewing Company.
“Everything is happening here, it’s rejuvenating. (Having Nevada Brining Company here) is like throwing a rock into a pond,” he says.
For recipes or to buy Nevada Brining Company products online, visit http://nevadabrining.com/
Nevada Brining Company products are also on sale at Great Basin Brewing Company locations, the Tahoe Food Hub, and will be present at the Dec. 1 Made in Nevada Holiday Marketplace at the Flag Store next to the Sparks Tribune office on Glendale Avenue.