The Pike Brewing Locale Skagit Valley Alba is more than just a bottle of beer: it’s a glimpse into both our past, and our future. Made with a selection of heritage grains that haven’t been used in beer for decades, it’s the end result of years of research by Washington State University’s Bread Lab in Mount Vernon, Washington, the experimentation of Skagit Valley Malting, and then Pike’s own experience. Because the malt base of the beer is starkly different than the widely-available malts on the market, it delivers a flavor that almost defies description.

Texturally, the beer is reminiscent of a pale ale: medium-bodied and fresh. The nose hints at aromas you’d typically associate with a hoppier beer, yet on the palate it’s crisp and almost earthy. Instead of the astringency of hops, you get crisp acidity and vague hints of exotic spices, as well as a slight yeasty tang. Pike hopes to produce a variety of beers in the Locale series using other heritage grains, and if their first foray is an indicator, they’ll be both delicious and fascinating.

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