Video: Brewers, distillers thirsty for local barley flavors

By Sylvia Kantor, College of Agricultural, Human & Natural Resource Sciences

barley-160MOUNT VERNON, Wash. – Using traditional breeding techniques, scientists at Washington State University are developing barley varieties with qualities that are sought after for making malted barley – the staple ingredient of beer and whiskey.

Seattle’s Emerson Lamb of Westland Distillery and Charles Finkel of The Pike Brewing Company can’t wait to get locally grown, custom malted barley into their mash tuns. They’re excited about the possibilities for imparting local flavor in beer and whiskey with barley grown and malted in western Washington.

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As a small distiller, Lamb has the flexibility to produce single batch, single varietal or even single farm whiskeys, and it’s important to him that his product reflects its place of origin.

“That’s why we’re really excited about locally grown and custom malted barley. We can be hyper-local with flavor,” he said.

Lamb is glad to find his own spirit of experimentation shared by plant breeders Stephen Jones and Brook Brouwer at the WSU Mount Vernon Research and Extension Center.

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Stephen Jones, director, WSU Mount Vernon Research and Extension Center, 360-416-5210,