Growing up in the San Juan Islands in the Pacific Northwest, the blooming of the wild roses, one of nature’s many rituals, marked the transition from spring to the long, glorious, productive days of summer. They always grow around the perimeters of the forests and hayfields, untamed and a little rugged, and brim-full of spirit. As the days grow longer and we approach the energetic apogee of the calendar year, we are happy to be working with some delicious barley in the brewery that we think you’ll enjoy.

For those who may not intimately know the brewing process, it works like this: (1) grow barley (one of the most ancient grains grown by the human civilization), (2) sprout it to make the grain more digestible (also called "malting"), and (3) then we brew a hot tea with the sprouted barley, spice it with hops, and (4) let it undergo a very long, cold fermentation (in the case of lager brewing) to transform this beautifully fragrant barley tea into lager beer!

For our Summer 2021 Hanabi Lager, we used a variety of barley called Francin, sourced from one of the first "micro-maltsters" (barley-sprouters) on the West Coast, Skagit Valley Malting. Just as microbreweries diverged from ‘macro-lager’ in the early 1980’s to champion better flavor over volume, folks like Skagit Valley Malting are doing the same thing for barley, an ingredient that is central to brewing. They are working with small farms and helping to make varieties available to brewers that are more flavorful, wholesome, and delicious than standard mass-produced barley options.

This Francin barley was grown in the far northwest corner of Washington, not far from where we grew up. The barley fields literally abut the ocean, and these pure, maritime growing conditions help develop a distinctive floral and sweet-hay-like character in this barley. Wanting to honor the nuances of this delicious grain, we brewed a style of beer called Helles Lager that we feel provides the clearest lens straight to the grain itself. Helles is a highly drinkable, traditional Bavarian style of beer developed for summer. While unforgiving to make, owing to its subtlety, it offers an honest expression of the grain in the truest sense. Like grapes, these grains not only reflect a place, but also a spirit. This one feels pioneering, and….we like it. We hope you enjoy.