Tim Janson, Kathy Sundrara, and Arrow Mestas taste beer during the Everett Craft Beer Festival in 2013. The festival is on Saturday this year. (Herald file photo)

Malts, hops and lemon brews at Everett Beer Festival

Five years in and the Everett Craft Beer Festival continues to grow.

The fifth annual Everett Craft Beer Festival will host its largest lineup ever Saturday in downtown Everett, with 34 breweries pouring more than 100 different beers. Beer is growing fast in Snohomish County: 13 of the breweries are from the county, including five from Everett.

Here’s a look at some of the interesting aspects of this year’s festival:

Boutique malts

The eastern side of the state may have the hops, but here on the west side of the mountains we’ve got the malts.

Thanks to the custom malt house, Skagit Valley Malting, some of the most unique malted grains in the world are being cultivated just up I-5 in Burlington. Call it craft malts for craft beer.

“Skagit Valley Malting is redefining how we, as brewers, look at malt,” said Scuttlebutt head brewer Matt Stromberg. “They are employing new, innovative technology to process the malt, as well as contracting with local farmers to grow non-traditional varieties of malt. That gives brewers a range of flavors previously unavailable.”

A number of beers at Saturday’s festival will be showing off some of Skagit Valley Malting’s custom malts, including two beers by Marysville’s Whitewall Brewing. Whitewall’s Dapper Dan, an English Dark Mild, uses a base grain of Skagit Valley malts, and its Equinox SMaSH (Single Malt and Single Hop) IPA uses 100 percent Copeland 2 Row malts.

“Although the malt is more expensive than other maltsters, we love the flavor of the beer produced by using Skagit Valley malts, and the increase in efficiency just about negates the increased price,” said Whitewall’s co-owner and brewer Aaron Wight. “Our goal is great tasting beer that can be produced consistently, and with this malt we can do just that.”

Three other beers Saturday will also feature malts from Skagit Valley Malting: Skookum’s Billowing Waves Double IPA, brewed with Skagit Valley wheat and flaked rye; Farmstrong Brewing’s Mostapfel Gose, brewed as part of their Skagit Valley Estate Series; and Boundary Bay’s Citraweiss, a sour brewed with wheat from Skagit Valley Malting.

Shine on you crazy hops

Hop-Shine is a new product from Derrick Davis and his company MicroHops, a Snohomish-based hop farm that is taking a new and interesting approach to hops. Hop-Shine allows beer drinkers to drop small amounts of hop essences directly into any beer.

Scuttlebutt is infusing Hop-Shine into a few kegs of its Homeport Blonde at this year’s festival, helping introduce the product to a wider audience.

“The Hop-Shine Blonde we’ll be pouring will be interesting,” Stromberg said. “It should not be missed.”

For more information on Hop-Shine, go to www.microhops.net.

When life gives you lemons

Fruit beers are strewn all over this year’s festival lineup, but lemons are distinctly popular. From an ever-popular shandy to a lemonade Berliner Weisse, lemon beers will undoubtedly be popular on this hot August day.

Here’s a look at the lemon-themed beers at this year’s festival:

Disco Lemonade Berliner Weisse, Aslan Brewing: Refreshing sour wheat beer marries tart lemon flavor rounded out by a solid wheat body.

Matt’s Experimental Blonde, Diamond Knot: Pre-Prohibition-style blonde ale dry-hopped with Lemondrop hops.

Citrino Lager, Dreadnought Brewing: Czech lager with a hint of lemon zest.

Sun Gold Shandy, Sound to Summit Brewing: Sound to Summit’s Belgian Golden Ale blended with lemonade.

First timers

Every year there are a few new faces at the Everett Craft Beer Festival, but this year, there seem to be more newbies than usual. I count a dozen breweries that will be making their first-ever appearance in Everett.

Some are recently opened local breweries like Monroe’s Dreadnought Brewing and Everett’s Crucible Brewing, while others, like Darrington’s River Time Brewing and Arlington’s Skookum Brewing, have been available for years but had never made it to the festival.

Other first-time visitors include Bellingham’s Aslan Brewing and Wander Brewing, Woodinville’s Sumerian Brewing and B-Side Brewing, Bothell’s Decibel Brewing, Mount Vernon’s Farmstrong Brewing, Seattle’s Lowercase Brewing and Everett’s own Middleton Brewing.

If you go

The fifth annual Everett Craft Beer Festival will feature 34 Washington breweries, including a number of Snohomish County breweries, from noon to 7 p.m. on Aug. 20 in downtown Everett. There will also be food trucks and live music. For tickets and more information, go to www.washingtonbeer.com.

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