This season’s beer features a barley variety named Baronesse. Originally bred in Germany, Baronesse was largely abandoned there because it is less productive than other more modern barleys. When farmer Bill Myers was out tasting through his various test plots of grains 30 years ago, at the stage when the seed heads were just beginning to turn golden but still a little soft and sweet, his palate gave him the answers he needed. Bill arrived at the Baronesse plot, and simply, it was the most delicious barley he’d ever tasted. The flavors were very expressive, like sweet perfumy hay, and had a bright and lively demeanor. Letting his palate guide him (which by the way is a very unusual method for deciding which barley to grow commercially since most farmers are more concerned with productivity and ease of use), he went all-in on Baronesse and has been growing it exclusively ever since. Bill’s place, called Joseph’s Grainery in the Palouse area of Washington State, is a small family farm that has championed this special grain for decades. To our knowledge, they are the sole producer of Baronesse in North America. They raise it without irrigation (it’s dry-farmed), and it produces dense, hardy corns with a distinct hay-like aroma and flavor.

We decided to present this grain as a Pilsner style lager, which is the oldest and most classic example of the light golden lagers. Pilsner beers generally open with flavors and aromas of fragrant grains that are balanced by lightly spicy, floral, or herbal hop flowers. The finish is typically well-structured with a refreshing sense of minerality. Taking this approach with Baronesse, the grain brings notes of fresh hay, alfalfa, dried chamomile flowers, and a wet stones minerality.