"Grown here. Malted here. Brewed here."

That slogan embodies Farmstrong Brewing Co.'s recent accomplishment of using grain solely from Skagit County farmers, malting it at Skagit Valley Malting and brewing it in Mount Vernon. 

On March 1, Farmstrong began using malt from Skagit Valley Malting in all of its beers.

Because most of the process occurs within a 10-mile radius, sales manager Clay Christofferson said Farmstrong is able to truly showcase the valley's terroir, or sense of place.

"We feel like it's our duty to be a 10-mile brewery," he said. "Why not have that whole process go back to the community?"

Even the leftover grain from the brewing process returns to the land, he said. Local farmers use the spent grain as livestock feed.

The idea to brew all of Farmstrong's beers from local grain came out of a conversation in November between Christofferson and head brewer Thane Tupper.

Sitting around a bonfire on Orcas Island, Christofferson asked Tupper what he wanted to do next at Farmstrong.

"We were always proud to say 80-90 percent of our beers used malt from Skagit Valley Malting, but two of our biggest beers didn't," Christofferson said. 

The Cold Beer Pilsner and La Raza Ambar were still using malt from the Midwest.

Christofferson and Tupper decided to change that.

Back in Mount Vernon, Tupper began the meticulous work of bringing their flagship beers home. He said it came down to tasting grains, doing multiple trials and working closely with Skagit Valley Malting. 

"Cold Beer is such a light lager," he said. "You can't hide anything in there. You really need to dial the flavor in."

Months later, Tupper succeeded in revising the recipes to use Skagit Valley grain, and tested out the new brews in the taproom.

"People were saying this is the best La Raza they've ever had, but they couldn't tell the malt had changed," Tupper said.

Standing in Farmstrong's brewery in early March, a group of community members sipped on the local brews, commenting on their crisp flavors and lingering afternotes. 

Mount Vernon resident Andrew Wall said he's been coming to Farmstrong since he turned 21. 

"I like that (the beer) is all local and made with Skagit Valley Malting," the 22-year-old said. "This beer didn't travel."

​— Reporter Leah Allen: 360-416-2149, lallen@skagitpublishing.com, Twitter: @Leah_SVH

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