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Craft Beer and Brewing: Podcast Episode 169

Podcast Episode 169: Fair Isle’s Andrew Pogue and Nick Pauley Push the Farmhouse Paradigm with Mixed Cultures, Foraged Ingredients, and Creative Grains

Seattle’s Fair Isle is a newcomer to the world of mixed-culture brewing, but it’s made its mark with tightly executed saisons that nod to history while exploring the potential of grains and ingredients native to the Pacific Northwest.

For Fair Isle Brewing in Seattle, Washington, the founding concept was simple—focus on a narrow niche of the beer world, and do it really, really well. It’s one thing to state an audacious goal, and it’s another to actually deliver on it, but the tightly executed saisons they’ve produced over the past year exude a confidence and class that belie their young age.

In this episode of the podcast, cofounder Andrew Pogue and head brewer Nick Pauley walk through the brewery’s creation and their thoughtful approach to developing and corralling the house culture that the brewery uses to ferment every one of its beers. They discuss how to manage the cultural drift toward acid production, creating different environments that push the culture in different flavor directions, and the ways that initial fermentation flavors and aromas change and develop over the 90-day fermentation schedule.

Grain plays a big role in the brewery’s experimentation, and they discuss using heirloom barley varieties such as Purple Egyptian, as well as newly developed perennial grain Salish Blue.

They’ve also focused intently on brewing with native ingredients from the region—working with a licensed ethnobotanist who harvests foraged ingredients. They discuss their process of learning how to best use new-to-them ingredients—from foraged fireweed to wild elderberry, hawthorne, and yarrow, they’ve been learning as they go. They then discuss the re-pitching process for their culture, and how they re-use spent hops for certain beers.

Creating a saison-focused brewery in hops-loving Seattle is clearly a labor of love—but the Fair Isle team wouldn’t have it any other way.

Listen to the podcast