Tucked into Mount Vernon, WA is a Skagit Valley brewery that, lucky for us, appears on guest taps all through out Bellingham. Farmstrong Brewing Company, a dog and kid-friendly taproom, has an atmosphere much like a brewery we’d find in our northern neck of the woods, with some extra exciting things planned for 2018.
Whether it’s their easy drinking pilsner, the Cold Beer, or a more complex and full bodied dark beer like their Pull and Be Damned Porter, Farmstrong is pure Skagit Valley on tap all the time– part of why Bellingham beer drinkers love them so much. They are community-minded and local ingredient-driven, both qualities paired with an extensive and high-quality range of styles makes them a beer drinker’s dream.
In 2018, it only gets better.
Ragged & Right
Bellingham has recently heard buzz about the cider wave hitting town, and the craze is only getting bigger, better, and further south. Farmstrong has made exceptional beer of every kind, including their NW Farmhouse Ale and local favorite Mount Baker Black Lager. Recently, owners Todd Owsley and Mike Armstrong decided to expand their business horizons into a separate entity, Ragged & Right Cider Project.
“Why are we buying cider from someone else when we can make it?” Armstrong said of buying cider to fill guest handles. “Then we can do it the way we want to do it and make a product that we want to drink.”
You might be wondering why Owsley, Armstrong, co-owner Dan Cameron, and their brew team can’t make Farmstrong Cider. Much like local brewery/winery partners Illuminati Brewing and Masquerade Winery, making beer and wine (fun fact: Washington state considers cider as part of the “wine” group) must be done under separate business and alcohol licenses. This is where Ragged & Right comes in.
This licensing process can be taxing to say the least, but after the license was received, the Skagit Valley brew crew had no trouble making cider as great as their beer.
The first cider from Ragged & Right went public two Mondays ago and can be found distributed around Skagit Valley thus far. Made with all Washington-grown Piñata apples, their Piñata Dry cider is true to form–dry and tart, a style they plan on sticking to.
This is only the beginning for Ragged & Right. Their small, hand-crafted batches allow them to play around with flavors and see what their customers seem to love, whether that be the non-traditional use of beer yeast in their cider or a single-variety apple cider. Though these aren’t typical practices in cider-making, their experience in craft beer seems to immediately put Ragged & Right in a league of it’s own.
Just like beer, cider can be as simple or complex as the cider-maker wants it to be. If it’s anything like Farmstrong’s beer, our palettes won’t be disappointed.
Farmstrong Fiery- First of it’s kind
This year Farmstrong is taking another exciting step when it comes to putting out new things for us to enjoy, like the Fiery Theory Series.
Farmstrong has a heavy focus on staying local with ingredients, which means about 90% of the grain they use is from our dear friends down Chuckanut Drive at Skagit Valley Malting. In the Fiery (pronounced kind of like fury) Theory Series, Skagit Valley Malting is their source of grain used in a brew unlike any other.
How many breweries can say that their beer is grown, malted and brewed within five miles? – Mike Armstrong
In fiery brewing, the malt is put into the brew before it has had time to cure. In other words, when it’s put into the mash tun, it’s still 150 to 190 degrees from the malting process.
“From what we’ve noticed in the two batches that we’ve done, it imparts a different flavor profile and it seems to be a little more earthy,” Owsley said. “I believe it brings the flavor of the actual malt more and seems to be more sustainable in flavor.”