The tart cloudberry, a favourite among many Nunavummiut, may be transformed into a flavour of beer if Marie Kimeda is successful.
Kimeda is one of eight finalists in a Canadian competition hosted by Scottish craft brewer Innis & Gunn, which is seeking the best idea for a limited-edition beer that will be sold from coast-to-coast in Canada next year.
Kimeda pitched a mixture of cloudberry and sweet peaches, which is known as the Cloudberry Peach Sour. It impressed the judge – Innis & Gunn’s founder and master brewer Dougal Gunn Sharp – enough that he selected it as a finalist.
“It’s really exciting,” Kimeda said. “I was surprised.”
Not usually one to enter contests, she learned of the beer flavour challenge months ago on Facebook, after having tasted cloudberries – known as akpik in Inuktut – for the first time in Kugluktuk.
“It was pretty much the first thing that came to mind,” she said of submitting the cloudberry/peach combo in the contest.
She hasn’t enjoyed any more cloudberries since then because they’re a precious commodity.
“It’s a very short season up here and there’s such high demand for (the berries). People go out and pick them almost before they’re ripe sometimes because they go so quickly,” she said. “I think people have their little patches of akpiks here… I think I only found two cloudberrries ever that I picked myself.”
The winner will be determined later this month based on public voting at the Innis & Gunn website. The top prize includes a trip to Scotland to tour the Innis & Gunn brewery and to brew the winning flavour alongside Sharp.
The possibility of being voted number one gives Kimeda a buzz.
“I think it would be a pretty cool story,” she said. “Your name gets to be on a beer. It’s pretty exciting,” she said, adding that her brother owns two bars in Toronto and he said he’d put the flavour of beer she invented on tap.
Getting to Scotland would be special for her too.
“I’m part Scottish. I’ve never been to Scotland so it would be pretty cool to visit where my grandparents grew up.”