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Bottle of 2023 All Sparrow, No Sky

2023 All Sparrow, No Sky

Because we made two batches of Seekers in 2023 I wanted to make one straight-up peach beer, and this was the one that I thought about the most and wanted to go back to. Thankfully Brian Collins was happy to set aside the small amount of Diamond Princess peaches they harvest for us. We processed them as we normally do and refermented them on a blend of mostly spelt saison from a couple of acacia barrels that I really like. The acacia tends to be hyper neutral and really highlights hoppy beers, we only have a few of them so I try to be aware of blending them together in beers when I want to make sure we don't pick up any oak.

We supplemented the Diamond Princess with a small amount of the very last harvest of peaches at Collins (O'Henry and Snow Giant peaches and Honey Gem yellow nectarines) which were refermented with a neutral oak aged wheat/oat saison.

This is a classic Floodland peach beer, it's very aromatic and easy to drink, but is clearly saison on the palate. I blended it a touch more hoppy than many of the recent peach beers, and there's a light hop bitterness on the close which leaves a very clean finish, making it really easy to drink and not fatiguing on the palate.

Bottling date: 11/30/2023
ABV: 6.00% ABV

Cellar: Peach tends to be best consumed fresh, best by Fall 2024.

Bottle of MMXXII Chardonnay

MMXXII Chardonnay

I liked both previous iterations of this beer. I love this one. It is a huge shift towards my ideal white grape beer. These beers are the most challenging to blend for me, in part because they taste so good out of the barrel, warm and still. I have had to really focus on what changes as they bottle condition and how they present differently cold and carbonated, moreso than most of the other beers. Add to this that the clones of Chardonnay we have used from French Creek have changed each year we have taken the fruit.

After 2021 a lot of Chardonnay at the vineyard was planted over to other varietals, and the musque clone we used in 2021 was amongst those. Damon Lalonde, who manages the vineyard, moved us to the Robert Young clone for 2022. For those who aren't familiar with clones of vines, grapes are like apples, they are not true to type. That means you cannot take a pollinated seed and plant it and grow the same plant. So in order to propagate plants, cutting are taken and are grafted on to rootstock. These clones of a single plant are essentially sub-varietals, within the Chardonnay grape there are many well-known clones which display different aromatic and flavor characteristics, as well as different growing traits. The Robert Young clone originated from Wente Vineyard in California, as did most of California's Chardonnay plantings.

Here's a pretty good article about the Wente clones:

Early in the 2022 harvest our crusher/destemmer seized up and so when the Chardonnay came in Aaron foot-stomped these and we fermented whole cluster in the bins. We pressed off the pomace after some time (the pomace was used for 2022-2023 Seekers After Light) and the press running went to several neutral barrels to be blended with saison.

We used a variety of barrels for this blend, some of it dry hopped, and it all slowly fermented in neutral oak. The resulting blend comes from a single barrel and part of a puncheon. This beer is a very honest expression of the varietal. It's quintessential west coast chard, but more drinkable. It has really prominent notes of pear, lemon, and pineapple. There's some Brett and a really nice citric acidity that lifts the whole thing. It's a bit lighter and less weighty than the previous bottlings. Washington chard is so ripe and the sunshine here really pushes it, so we blended it back with saison a little further on this one and found a great balance between the beer and the grapes.

Drinking great right now, and should cellar very well.

Bottling date: 11/02/2023
ABV: 8.69% ABV

Cellar: best before Summer 2026

Bottle of 2022-2023 The Constellatory Practice

2022-2023 The Constellatory Practice

Within any given series of blends we often explore varying styles. If you have had a lot of the Seekers blends you've seen it range from the bold and dripping apricot mimosa-esque acidity of the initial 2017-2018 blend, to the hyper fluffy and low acidity restraint of the 2021 blend. In that same way we are already really hitting different ends of the spectrum with Constellatory. As restrained as the first blend was, this blend is more punchy aromatically and exceptionally fun. It still has a huge depth of character, maybe moreso, and I'd say that it's more cohesive than the first blend.

While the first Constellatory was made entirely with pale plums and pluots, this blending was made with pale fleshed plums and pluots and included a few red-skinned/gold-flesh plums which lend it the pink color. It is constructed from 2022 Riesling from Red Willow. Our crusher destemmer crapped out that year, as I mentioned regarding the '22 Chardonnay, so we decided to simply put a bunch of the Riesling in a purged stainless tank while it was cold and let it begin semi-carbonic maceration.

An aside for those who aren't winemakers who have heard breweries turning carbonic maceration into a marketing gimmick... carbonic maceration is a process wherein some fruit, when the skin is left intact, will begin to undergo an enzymatic fermentation inside the fruit. This fermentation produces a distinct character and can produce a few percent abv before dying off. It is distinct from a maceration where liquid is in contact with the outside of the skin, which holds different compounds than the interior. A foot-stomped fermentationw ill often have many whole berries who ferment carbonically, but we don't refer to it as carbonic maceration. Similarly, a fruit whose skin is broken cannot really undergo true carbonic maceration. I'd argue that, for example, a pile of peaches put into a tank and allowed to simply ferment is just making fruit wine, not undergoing carbonic maceration. The goal of carbonic maceration is to avoid that contact of juice to skin, so in true carbonic maceration the juice from any burst berries would be drawn off the bottom of the tank and at its conclusion the grapes would be pressed. Semi-carbonic is a term used when there is carbonic maceration but liquid is not drawn off and skin contact maceration is also taking place at the bottom of the tank as juice accumulates, before the fruit is pressed. If you aren't pressing at the end then you are entirely missing the point, so racking beer onto the fruit after undergoing carbonic is contrary to the spirit of the process and if someone is calling that carbonic maceration then I'd argue they are grossly misusing the term.

After several weeks of semi-carbonic, our 2022 Riesling was removed from the tank and we pressed the grapes. The press runnings were collected in neutral oak and blended with aged saison. The barrels were allowed to continue to ferment and age over the fall, winter, and spring of the following year. In fall of 2023 we took several lots of organic plums and pluots – Shiro, Howard's Miracle, and Green Gage from JC at Filaree, and Flavor Queen and Flavorosa pluots from Collins Family. The Riesling beer was racked onto that fruit and allowed to referment again. 4-5 months later the beer was botlted, where it has sat patiently as a final refermentation in the bottle produced carbonation.

These two-vintage beers can be very time consuming to make, but the end result, when executed properly, removes any question as to whether or not it was worth the time and effort.

Bottling date: 01/11/2024
ABV: 8.66% ABV

Cellar: Beers with the more delicate balance of stone fruit like this tend to be best consumed the season they are released, I recommend drinking this spring/summer/fall of 2024.


Bottle of 2023 Waxwing

2023 Waxwing

This is as close to recreating the original 2017 Cherry Field Blend as we've come. That beer had more Montmorency than Balaton, and from two sources we can no longer get fruit from, and this has that ratio reversed. The culture in the original Cherry Field Blend was something that didn't get propagated and so while it's difficult to recreate that beer exactly, I went back and reread all of my notes and did my best. This reads a bit more red and less copper than that one, but it's not too far off. The beers in that first harvest in 2017 were all pretty young beers, I had just gotten my liquor license at the very end of February and so I brewed furiously through March and April to get enough beer. The beers were a bit lower hopped because I knew I needed them to turn faster, and so the best replacement for them in our modern recipes is to simply age the beers longer.

We've been working on a new wheat saison recipe for the last few years which has yet to see a blend, but this beer is made mostly from well-aged barrels of that beer. That beer was somewhat inspired by the Wildflower collaboration we did years ago. There was a day drinking that beer with my wife and some family on a deck in Ballard where I swore it tasted more like a natural wine than a beer. So I recreated a beer not based on how that beer was made, but based on how it tasted in my memory.

Cherry beers remain mostly hugely loved from people I talk to... I think you either like these or you don't. If you do, you'll dig this. I somewhat regret making another cherry beer so soon after Brouwer's because that was so good, but I had the idea to do a lower fruited one in my head and couldn't get past it. After working with these Balatons so much every year since 2017 I'm thinking we'll take a year or two off from them so I can regroup, so this may be the last Waxwing for a while, and more likely it's the last Waxwing we'll ever make. I have other ideas I want to work on rather than chasing the memories of the beers I made 7 years ago, but I didn't want to cut the cord without letting all of you who love the cherry beers have one last bottling.

Bottling date: 09/28/2023
ABV: 7.17% ABV

Cellar: best before Summer 2025

Bottle of 2023 Field Blend (Blackberry and Blueberry)

2023 Field Blend (Blackberry and Blueberry)

In the spirit of our field blend being a reflection of time rather than place, we embraced a few weird techniques with this that we've never used. First, I began looking back at some of the old beers we made. I wanted to revisit some things we had done before and never revisited. So in a very rough sense this throws back to the 2017 blackberry field blend, which also included a small amount of blueberries. Since 2017 I'd been playing phone and email tag with the brothers who run Sidhu Farms in Puyallup, and in 2023 I made a point of finally getting some berries from them, including my favorite blackberry varietal - Triple Crown.

The beginning of this beer was saison refermented on those blackberries and blueberries, more black than blue, but the blues are always punchy. After that beer was completed we blended in parts of all the other fruit tanks that were in the cellar, so the beer also includes one of the tanks which went into the forthcoming 2023 All Sparrow, No Sky which included a small blend of the final harvest of peaches and nectarines from Collins Family. Additionally we blended in from one of the Roseate VI tanks which included 2022 pluot beer and 2023 second-use Balaton cherries from Waxwing. AND we also blended in some of the 2023 Sandra Rose cherry beer that came out last release, Golden-crowned.

While the blend is still about 80% the blackberry/blueberry beer (whose ratios are about 2 parts blackberry to 1 part blueberry), I think the additional components add some balance to it even if they don't jump out of the glass at you. In particular I think you can catch some cherry spice as it warms and the stone fruit certainly softens the funkiness of the blueberries. All of that said, in the glass this presents a lot like Drive Out the Spirits. I get a lot of blackberry, but blueberry is so punchy that it always sneaks its way to the front.

Also a new label for Field Blend, usually I riff on the original label but I was wanting something that felt more quintessential (borderline illegible) Floodland, and I came up with this which I'm happier with.

Bottling date: 11/16/2023
ABV: 6.82% ABV

Cellar: Blueberry tends to age well, best by Fall 2025.

Bottle of 2023 Honey Punch

2023 Honey Punch

In 2023 we didn't make a Collins Family blend from various plums and pluots. We did get a chance to return to making a single varietal pluot beer, and I'm so glad we did as this turned out amazing and it's cool to see the individual character these pluots have. Honey Punch is a really late varietal and they are ridiculously sweet, which leads to this ABV being over 7% from a base beer that was probably about 5.0%. Honey Punch has a classic Collins Family thing, so if you like the blend but haven't had previous versions of this you'll recognize the character. It's a bit more punchy than the CFO blend itself, and the strawberry character is there despite it having more color.

At this young age the beer has a real distinct carbonic zing to it, which has some tropical notes that may or may not last as it ages, and the hops of the base beers come through as a black tea character that I'm a huge fan of and which I think sets this apart from previous versions. I remember first having these pluots in 2018 and thinking "no wonder they call it honey punch." And in successive years when we've gotten these, whether for their own beer or for Collins Family, I've never noticed the honey again, just the fruit punch. This beer has a huge honey character right now, though. Aaron said it's almost caramel-y like you get in some really nice ciders. Whether that will fade as the bottle ages I'm not sure, but right now it's drinking super well for how young it is. We debated whether to release it this young and Aaron advocated for it because it's sometimes fun to see the beers at a younger stage in bottle where they are really vibrant and have youthful characters which fade as time passes.

These plum beers are always basically summer-in-a-glass for me, and I'm really psyched that we got to do a single varietal beer again after a while of just doing Collins Family. Super grateful to Brian and everyone else there. Hopefully we can keep this trend up and do 1-2 more next year as the plum beers remain my favorites of all the fruit beers we do.

Bottling date: 01/18/2024
ABV: 7.24% ABV

Cellar: this beer is relatively young in bottle at release, but drinking really nicely. It should develop nicely through spring and peak in summer/fall 2024. Best before spring 2025.

Bottle of  2023 To Contemplate Eternity

2023 To Contemplate Eternity

Just over four years ago we released the first blend of TCE. I wanted to include some of what I wrote about that blend at the time of its release, and I have some brief notes on the 2023 blend below that. The short version of what I should say here is that I gave Jay a bottle before its release and his text message to me a few weeks later was "I'm pretty sure this is the best beer I've ever had."

2019 To Contemplate Eternity
About 12 years ago I became fixated on brewing saison. It took hold of me in a way I didn't expect, and it charted a course in my life that I could never have anticipated. It seems strange that something so trivial could become so all consuming, but over the years I've grown more comfortable with it and I've made some peace with caring about it more than any rational person should.

For me, an admitted obsessive, these beers at their best can induce a trancelike state, a change in perception, a temporary abatement of the noise of existing. You can find these states in a lot of ways — psychedelics, music, et cetera. To Contemplate Eternity is in part a beer about finding that kind of state, or at least giving a fuck about trying to find it. I understand that could seem entirely dramatic, and I'm comfortable with that.

Most of our beers seem to peak at about 6 months in the barrel, sometimes they taste better when young at 3-4 months, sometimes a bit older at 9-10. Sometimes, rarely, they go more slowly. This beer is a cuvée of older, well aged saison. My goal with TCE as an ongoing beer is to be able to hold back some barrels that I think are on a track to develop nicely over time and annually or biannually do a blend of those barrels that highlights those that take a slower path to get where they are going.

With saison, the way we make it, older isn't always better. In fact it's usually not better. We try to use the barrels when they are best, and bottling them puts them on a different aging course.

In general this blend is low acid, and hop forward. We make our beers in oak, but I'm not much into heavy oak. This blend spent quite some time in barrel so there's a really nice character that shows some creaminess from a lot of spelt beers blending into a light oak vanillin, to me it's mostly aromatic when it opens. It's more restrained oak than what you see from most aged American saisons, I think, but it's there. The hops fade into herbal notes, some savory bits, and there's an orange-leaning citrus character and a river rock salinity.


When you go back to the old stories of saison as brewed in cold seasons to be consumed in the warm seasons by saisonniers, one of the things which resonates with most folks is the seasonal way in which the beers were brewed – the eponymous nature of farmers brewing after harvest in the late fall, through the winter, and ending in the spring as the temperatures warmed. The blend of this beer, for the first time, comprises beers brewed entirely during one cool season, beginning in late summer of 2021 and ending just before spring of 2022. The blend was constructed following the summer equinox of 2023, two years after the bulk of the beer was brewed. This, to me, represents the saison equivalent of the 3/2/1 geuze blend. It is a beer representative of a single brewing season, aged for an optimal time.

Prior to working on the 2023 blend, I drank some bottles of both the '19 and '21 blends and refocused my goals for the constituent barrels and style of '23. I wanted to not only think about the barrels that went into the blend at the time of blending, but to use those past bottlings to help me "see into the future" as Ron Jeffries once said to me.

I think this bottling hews much closer to '19, it certainly draws from lessons I learned as both those beers aged as to what kind of blend speaks to me after aging in bottle. We also went back to a wax style similar to what we blended in 2019. This wax blend in the light shows some subtle highlights that didn't, but it has the same "staring at the stars" kind of vibe as '19, which seemed appropriate since the beers are very similar.

Bottling date: 08/10/2023
ABV: 6.67% ABV

Cellar: I expect that the 2019 blend is the best guideline for how this will age, it is drinking well now, but should begin to peak in spring/summer of 2024 and should drink well for 5-6 years.


Bottle of 2023 Waysigns

2023 Waysigns

The first non-fruited saison we released, in March of 2018, brewed a year prior, was Grails + Waysigns. We've brewed that beer so many times since. It's an essential blending component in a lot of the beers we make (Meditation on Light and Death Come Quickly to name a few), but we've only blended it for release one other time beyond that first. Both of those bottlings were "blended" but made from a single wort split into multiple barrels.

One things that we've found with Grails over the years is that the beer can take two distinct paths in the barrel, and we never know which way it will go. Usually it becomes a barrel that will work perfectly for fruit or honey or dry hopping. Other times it presents for bottling as Grails + Waysigns. Why it chooses one direction over anything is a subtlety of fermentation. I choose to let the beer find its own path rather than forcing it.

While most of our barrels are barrique sized (225 Liters), we have a handful of various sizes of puncheons that are slightly larger (up to 500L). In the first weeks of spring 2022 we brewed a batch of Grails with some local organic malted barley and organic wheat. It went into a few puncheons/barrels and fermented away for quite some time. The following spring when sampling barrels I found that there were two puncheons of Grails that I was really happy with. Usually I prefer Grails a touch younger, but the larger format barrel had extended its aging nicely.

I was working on another blend, and so one puncheon went into that. When working, my internal monologue tends to become an external monologue. Saying things out loud helps me work through problems and assess my own ideas. I was talking to Aaron about the barrels as a way of thinking out loud. I was frustrated that I felt we no longer had the ability to package single barrels. Those of you who have been around since the beginning will remember that in the first year or two we released a series of 375ml bottles with white labels which were unblended single-barrel bottling (the first Voice-Hearers, The Vast Unknowable, Three Thousand Realms, and my favorite of the bunch was No Here, No Hereafter).

For a variety of sensory (I don't like how the bottle condition on 375s taste) and logistical reasons we stopped making those. I wanted to continue packaging single barrels when the situation arose, but I was worried that packaging these small runs in 750s would make them even more scarce and generate FOMO. I was trying so hard to make Floodland not about that, so I simply avoided them for years.

I realized, talking out loud mostly to myself, that we're at the point where we could return to bottling some single barrels, which feels incredible. We took that single puncheon of Grails and bottled it, unblended. This is an attempt at showing all of you what we see in the way these beers age and ferment, the variability, the unique characters that each individual barrel can have. When you are early in your brewing path you worry about the "best" barrels and wanting to showcase rockstar things. As I have moved on I am more interested in transparency, which I think of as a path to honesty.

This beer will be familiar to all of you who have had Grails + Waysigns, we always joke about it as "baby lambic lemonade" and as much as that's said in jest, it is apt. Post-condition this puncheon is 5.9% instead of the 4.9% of both the previous blends, but it retains the lightness of those. I love the interplay of the fermentative funk, the hops, and the light wheat body. It is to lambic what modern IPA is to 90s-era crystal malt laden IPA – it takes the top-end and brightens it up, while removing all the low-end malty stumbling blocks as well as lambic's acetic distractions.

Bottling date: 04/27/2023
ABV: 5.99% ABV

Cellar: best before spring 2027

Bottle of 2022 Winesap

2022 Winesap

Shortly after my "we can (and should) package some single barrel blends" revelation, I seized upon this beer. In summer 2022 I had reached out to JC from Filaree to ask about cider apples. I'd gotten some from him in the past for hobby cider, so I had a sense that he had a good selection of cool varietals, but this time I didn't want to make cider. This time I was thinking about experimenting with using apples in a Floodland beer.

Really, the beginning of this beer is another beer I brewed in my sister's detached Crown Hill garage in 2008, which I called Soulevement des Saisonnier. It was one of my early attempts at making mixed culture saison, and that particular beer was a somewhat strong saison. It was built from barley, wheat, apple must, and a blend of cultures including some Fantome bottle dregs. I brewed/bottled it twice as a hobby brewer, both times it was very lemony and had a black peppercorn brett spice to it that I really liked and was never able to replicate after that culture fell by the wayside. I contemplated resurrecting that beer at Holy Mountain, but decided against it for some reason or another. I also contemplated brewing it at Floodland and again decided against it... maybe because I was happy to leave the past in the past, maybe because the google translate french names on saison seemed less played out in 2008 than it does now.

So, back to 2022... I was thinking about piecing together another bitter/botanical beer blend, and one of my ideas involved using pressed apple must. The effect I wanted was similar to how we made a small portion of piquette (piquette is a low abv beverage made from reconstituting wine grape skins/pomace in water, pressing, and fermenting) like we did in the Masonry VIIth anniversary beer. I thought that incorporating cider could lend some pleasant crispness and lightness to the blend.

When I called JC we talked about what apples he had available, I told him what kind of profile I was looking for, and we settled on Winesap. This is an American heirloom varietal well known to anyone who enjoys cider. I was initially thinking of a more tannic varietal to add texture, but Winesap has some intense aromatics, so when JC offered I felt compelled to try it. I thought it would cut through in the beer and could pair very nicely with our saison.

Like any good cidermaker might, we sweated, milled, briefly macerated, and pressed the apples on site. The press runnings went into a barrel and we blended those runnings with some nice spelt saison which had already matured in a separate barrel. The Winesap barrel slowly fermented and aged in our cool cellar, and in the spring of 2023 as I was beginning to take stock of what we had on hand, I found it and decided to take a sample. I was pretty psyched with the results.

So... organic Winesap apples courtesy of JC of Filaree Fruit in the Okanogan, obviously a really special orchard for us that we are psyched to continue to work with. I've had some apple beers that were intensely acidic, it can be hard to use any significant amount of apple pressings and not lose control of the fermentation. This beer is definitely zippy, but it's also very fermentation forward and really aromatic. Super cool beer, I wish we had 10x more of it.

Bottling date: 07/06/2023
ABV: 6.77% ABV

Cellar: I honestly don't know, I don't have a lot of precedent for this one. It's been well cellared so far so I'd say drink it sooner rather than later just because I know how good it's tasting now.

Bottle of 2022-2023 Seekers After Light

2022-2023 Seekers After Light

I opened a bottle of this for the first time several weeks ago with Jay up at Houlme on Orcas Island. We sat out on their patio and he helped me with sensory on a few bottles that were coming up on being ready to release. I don't get to drink the beers with anyone outside the brewery very often, but when I opened this and handed him a glass his face immediately lit up with a smile.

This iteration is in the lineage of the 2021-2022 blend. As much as I love Seekers, when we were starting to work on this beer I was feeling that we needed to continue to inject new ideas into the details of how we make them for fear of stagnating. This iteration was made both in reaction to the 2021 iteration, which was great, but upon release lacked the acidity of the 2017-2018 version which made it so salivatingly mimosa-esque. It was also made out of appreciation of the 2021-2022 blend, which struck upon some of the same chords as that initial one with its apricot character.

This beer was primarily brewed in late 2021 and aged in barrel. After being racked from barrel to tank to macerate and referment slowly on the chardonnay pomace in the fall of 2022 it was allowed to rest for the better portion of a year. You'll notice this is about a full percent abv higher than that 21/22 beer, which I think does a lot for it. We incorporated more chardonnay than in past years, which brings with it some of that refreshing wine-like acidity, as well as some perceived sweetness (the beer, like almost everything we release is bone-dry and calorically not dense, so sometimes a bit of alcohol is the only thing to help impart enough perceived sweetness to really make the fruit hum).

In the early summer of 2023 Aaron transferred that beer off of the grapes to another tank where it refermented on organic Rival apricots from RAMA as well as some organic Robada apricots from Collins Family. I have found over a few years of eating them that the Robada have a citrus quality that's similar to the Rival. We had made a certain amount of beer aged on the chardonnay for this and the Rival harvest was unfortunately a touch lighter than we had hoped. Wanting to maintain my desired apricot to grape balance I reacherd out to Collins. The years have taught me that Robada is the best choice to round the apricots out without losing that amazing Rival character from the RAMA fruit.

This beer opens with a big fruit leather apricot aroma, and the Chardonnay has that citrus/saline character that makes the whole thing smell and taste like drinking a bellini on the ocean. It's a rarity that I am so pleased with the work we do as with this beer, I think we've made so many good versions of this. That said, this iteration is probably not one to drink solo unless you are accomplished at that, the acidity is right there. It makes you feel alive and it makes the whole thing work, but it's not as easily crushable as many of our beers.

The original 2017-2018 iteration of this used Chardonnay, and while many of the other variations are really good, this bottling really reinforces that Chardonnay is my favorite grape varietal to make it with. And as much as those 2017 grapes we used were nice, the 2022 French Creek Chard was absolutely bursting with energy and completely on point. Once you get a few minutes into this bottle being open and get over the magical apricot aroma you start to notice why this is probably the best batch of Seekers we've ever made: the grapes. The grapes on this are just alive and vibrating with energy... orange blossom, lime zest, ocean breeze, allspice... maybe even blanco tequila? It's crazy. I want to take some edibles and just drown in this beer.

Bottling date: 10/05/2023
ABV: 7.53% ABV

Cellar: this beer is relatively young in bottle at release, it should develop nicely through winter/spring and peak in summer 2024. Best before summer 2025.

Bottle of 2023 Golden-crowned

2023 Golden-crowned

This beer is the reincarnation of Van. I had originally intended to just make Van again and finally give it a name, but as it has a way of doing, harvest changed our plans just a bit.

Spring 2023 was a bit uncooperative, it was very cold and very wet. Budbreak was late. I know now that when the weather goes that way that the early plums and pluots can suffer. The trees will bud and if the weather isn't quite warm enough the bees aren't active and the pollination suffers for it, leading to less of the early plums. From a practical perspective this means that we are often sitting on our hands in July when we expect to be busy with the start of harvest. That in and of itself isn't so bad, but it means that later on we'll have to work twice as hard in the same amount of time to push through harvest.

I called Brian Collins, stressed about the lack of plums. He didn't have any good news for me on that front, but we went over all the other fruit, and thankfully he had cherries for us. In 2023 the cherry harvest was exceptional. It was really hard on farmers up here. They were dealing with a bumper crop in California being shipped up to stores here for cheap, plus the weather got really hot really fast, creating a compressed harvest timeline on a fruit that is already very fragile.

The upside for us was that we were able to get really nice cherries because there were simply too many of them. My plan with Brian had been to take Van, but the day they were to harvest he called me and said "do you want Sandra Rose?" I had to hold my phone with my shoulder and quickly google it, I had no idea what a Sandra Rose cherry was. An orchard site said "Van-like" and at the same time Brian said "I think you really need to make a beer with these. You can have Van if you want, but these cherries are just glowing, and we have enough of them."

Over the years at Floodland I've learned one thing for an absolute certainly – if a very smart farmer like Brian says I should try something, then I should try it. Brian grew up on the farm, he lives there. As much as I eat the fruit and work with the fruit, I do not have the depth of experience and breadth of knowledge he has. The truth is that it goes beyond that, he can see shit that no other person can see. It's rare you get to work with someone who has that kind of connection to their work. So if he says the fruit glows, I don't ask what that means, I just tell him to send it.

Like both iterations of Van, Golden-crowned opens with a deep red pour, like a cherry candy. The nose is creamy like vanilla and tonka beans. Probably no surprise it's so creamy as we packed this full of wheat saison, including one made from wheat and oats, and another made from an ancient type of wheat called Khorasan.

As it warms, that aromatic really opens up and, while the creamy cherry candy is the anchor, there are a lot of easy to pick up things on top of it. Cherry beers can bore me, so I am always pleased when one of them turns out to have enough complexity to hold my interest. This one goes dried violet, a bunch of baking spices like cinnamon, but with more depth than the way it presents in the pie cherries like Balaton and Montmorency. Given a little time it'll open further aromatically, subtle notes of hay and leather, and even moreso I was struck relentlessly by a memory of orange pomander. There's also a clear note of buckwheat honey, which made me do a double take. This is one of the few beers where I could tell from drinking it what we had bottle conditioned with, as the honey aromatic is so clear once the beer has opened up for 15-20 minutes. The star thistle honey we got from last fall was definitely captured somewhere at some time where the bees also got into something besides star thistle and knapweed, because it was darker and more barnyard-y, not nearly as dark or funky as buckwheat honey, but more complex and with more weight than the floral and fruit character of thistle honey.

One thing I love about the Van beers was the wine-like characteristics of the cherry, it has a touch of tannin that adds a really pleasant dynamic. This was a selling point for me when Brian had initially suggested I work with them. Sweet cherries can be so one-dimensional when turned into beer, the low acid and high sugar content just don't have much behind them, when the sugar is gone there isn't much left that is compelling. Van, and Sandra Rose both display some of these characteristics even out-of-hand. Brian had said he thought Van "tasted like Merlot." Aaron at Floodland said he got a lot of the same things in this beer, which is exciting for me because I have loved the Van beers so much and was hesitant to change things up because of that.

Bottling date: 08/31/2023
ABV: 7.12% ABV

Cellar: should peak spring 2024, best before spring 2025

Bottle of  Keel to Hellward

Keel to Hellward

"Balance is everything, riding out time like a helmless sheep-boat, keel to hellward, mast upreared to prick out heaven's eye."

-John Gardner, 'Grendel'

In September 2022 we released a beer called Transversal. At the time I wrote about it at some length. That beer introduced a new label format for us, which we use to signify a new style of unblended saison brewed as a single-batch, aged, and then reassembled. While some of our other blended saisons are actually comprised of a single batch (both Grails blends, Arise and Cease, the Heirloom collab, etc), beers like Keel to Hellward are intended to be one-off attempts at new and experimental works. We use this platform to research and develop new ways of working, especially with new grains, new hops, and probably in the future even new yeast cultures.

This interest in brewing unblended beers throws back to a time in my brewing life when I was trying to push myself to be a better brewer, to not rely on blending as a crutch which allows for minimizing faults like oak, oxidation, or acidity. In brewing saison in that way I found that often there were unrepeatable and joyous, singular batches/bottlings. So this label is also about providing a platform for that to occur, to embrace the ups and downs of brewing with no safety net. This bottle is definitely one of of the "ups."

Keel To Hellward was initially conceived as a way to experiment with some new hops we haven't ever used before. It is an oat saison, brewed with a simple and surprisingly elegant malt bill using just a few types each of oats and barley. It is constructed in a way that resembles the beer we call Altar which usually gets blended as Inevitably it Ends, but with many of the key elements replaced. When the beer was young the citrus character of the hops was staggering, I was so elated with the hops and how they had presented... the beer contains both some 2009 aged flower and some more modern, but past vintage pellets, all from the northwest. It was fermented and aged for an extended period in neutral oak. It was bottled in green glass and refermented to condition with some really nice wild honey that is mostly comprised of snowberry flowers (snowberries also known as ghostberries, are a bush in the honeysuckle family... you'll see them in many northwest forests, especially at elevation or near alders in wet clay soils. They aren't edible, but birds and bees love them; they were used extensively by natives for a variety of medicinal purposes).

As the beer has aged in bottle the aged hop profile has come out to balance the citrus brightness, and it has a prominent brett profile. It reminds me of a combination of something more funky and fermentation-driven like Grails and something more hop forward like Senescence. The aged hops have a really unique character that is reminiscent of tea to me, and more specifically of dried lemongrass, hibiscus, and rose hip.

The label is a photograph that I took in the midst of an intense fog on Underwood Mountain on the Washington side of the Gorge, sometime in the fall of 2017 with my good friend Seth (who I brewed with in the past, and who helped in the late harvest of 2017 at Floodland before moving to Oregon).

I am staggeringly pleased with how this beer turned out. It's my favorite saison we've released in quite a while, although the 2023 To Contemplate Eternity will release in March so that title may be short-lived. Like many of the hoppy saisons I like this beer swirled to incorporate some or most of the dregs, it enhances the oat fluffiness of the body and adds a touch of tropical character to the hops.

Bottling date: 08/03/2023
ABV: 6.80% ABV

Cellar: Still really on its ascent, I think the Brett is working overtime right now and so I'd keep it warm for the next few months. Should begin to peak spring/summer 2024, through spring 2025. Best by spring 2026.


Bottle of You Came To Me As A Ghost, B1

You Came To Me As A Ghost, B1

Been really enjoying drinking this one lately. This is a new beer which bridges the gap between the bitter/spritzy beers we make and the botanical/citrus beers we make. I set out to retain the level of complexity and bitterness in the Roseate 3/4/5 blends with better body and showcasing the saison rather than the fruit. In those Roseate blends, as nice as they were, there was an enormous dilution of the body from the rhubarb, which also tended to enhance the earthiness and bring a lot of fruit acidity. So many of the barrels that went into those blends were enormously fluffy/soft and would have shown incredible foam/head retention if blended on their own, and so this blend is our ability to showcase how nicely those barrels can meld with the citrus and flowers without the cherry and rhubarb, which, while really enjoyable, tend to overshadow some of the qualities of the beer itself.

The blend is bright and refreshingly aromatic, with the trademark Floodland softness and drinkability, balanced with a light citric and botanical bitterness. We have casually been referring to this as a grapefruit spritz. It has a refreshing, citrus zesty and bitter profile, but with a diverse array of aromatics.

The beer itself is comprised of barrels of the two base beers which make In the Meadows, one a wheat saison, the other a wheat and oat saison, as well as the one other wheat and oat saison we brew (Altar) which is blended as Inevitably it Ends. That is a pretty citrus and tropical set of beers, and I think that there's a really crushable alignment between the hops and the other flowers and citrus.

This should cellar similarly to most straight-up saison, so I'm calling the cellaring notes as drink within three years, although we're finding that the beers brewed within the last few years along with the new caps are probably going to hold up better than that.

(for those that don't know, the title of this beer, like many past beers I've made here and elsewhere, is a Songs: Ohia reference. RIP Jason Molina, still a source of inspiration for me and many others. If you haven't heard Songs:Ohia I suggest checking out "The Lioness" which is possibly the greatest album ever recorded. If you have heard the band but don't know the titular album, it is sadly out of print and will probably never be rereleased, but you can find it on youtube -

Bottling date: 06/22/2023
ABV: 6.70% ABV

Cellar: best before winter 2026

Bottle of 2022 Neither Names Nor Works

2022 Neither Names Nor Works

Usually when we release neither/nor we all sit around drinking it nodding our heads. The last few releases of it have felt like some of the best work we've done here at the brewery. Sometimes in the off-season we talk about what beers are going to get made next year, and few of those winter I've said "why don't we make like 6 versions of neither/nor?" So for anyone who has that same feeling, this year we finally made two.

If you remember back to three-and-a-half years ago we released the first iteration of Neither/Nor, 2018 Neither Sight Nor Time. Since then we've made a few iterations simply titled Neither/Nor, which is what we always call it internally out of sheer laziness. The version we are releasing for this allocation has long been something I've wanted to try and we always internally call this version "red neither/nor" because while the other blends are made from pale fleshed/skinned fruit, this is made entirely from red plums and pluots. The color of the final beer, however, is closer to that Exoculo shade of orange, reminiscent of a persimmon (photo below). I was fully expecting that it would be pink, so when we made the final blend and transferred it off of the fruit I was a bit shocked that it was that kind of golden honey color instead of a shade of red/pink.

The beer itself was so good before dry hopping that we considered not making it a Neither/Nor and just releasing it as-is, so I hope that this one may fade really nicely. In the end we stuck to the plan and it was heavily dry hopped with a variety of hops, mostly New Zealand varietals which bring a big orange crush and lime character. I was calling it "astronaut orange juice" for a while, although probably more notable is the big apricot note hiding slightly behind the citrus. Mike said "It's like sticking your head in a bag of hops" when we first cracked one. I always love how the fruit itself blends seamlessly into the fruit character of the dry hops when we do these right, and this one is a really nice blend of complex and drinkable.

The beer deserves a pour that incorporates the dregs, as most of these do, and the body is very pillowy and soft. It is still VERY low acid given that it was aged longer than most of the neither/nor beers are, and like our other dry hopped beers we had to print the label before bottling so the ABV is an estimated based on a lab test of the beer and an adjustment we make for the abv increasing due to bottle conditioning. The single digit is our way or marking those estimated ABVs.

Bottling date: 09/06/2023
ABV: 6.4% ABV

Cellar: this beer is dry hopped, best before spring 2024

Bottle of MMXXII The Narrowing Path

MMXXII The Narrowing Path

This beer is the successor in a way to some of the prior beers we've made with our friend Travis Allen from Kobayashi Winery. In 2017 we made a beer with Marsanne, it was the end of harvest and some really nice grapes were still hanging on the vine at Boushey Vineyard that year. Travis was there and picked them up and drove them back to Floodland for us to use for beer. In 2019 after his inaugural Weathereye pick of Viognier, he and I went back and picked the remaining grapes left at the bottom of the scarily-steep slope, walking them bucket-by-bucket up the 45 degree incline to load into my truck and drive back to the brewery.

Travis and I are both huge fans of how the rhone varietals grow in Washington, and we have over time explored how exciting it is to pair the rhone blanc varietals in particular with the Floodland saison. So in 2020 I suggested we try to collect a variety of Rhone blanc grapes and make a beer with them. In 2020 Travis had some grapes lined up, but a variety of factors conspired to make that iteration fall through. He and I both got so busy that it didn't resurface as an idea until when, in 2022 Travis talked to Ryan who is the vineyard manager at Weathereye on the top of Red Mountain. Most Washington wineries can't even get access to the incredible fruit that is grown at this spot, so it is wild that Ryan has been cool enough to let us make saison with them.

This is a really small amount of grapes in the scale of winemaking, and a total pain-in-the-ass for them to assemble such a crazy set of grapes for a one-off pick...but thanks to Travis and Ryan we ended up with a blend of Roussanne, Grenache Blanc, Viognier, Marsanne, and Clairette.

Right as our 2022 grape harvest was underway our crusher/destemmer died on us, the motor seized up. We were mid harvest, so even if we could drop the money to replace the thing it wasn't going to happen in time. Chris and the crew at Avennia Winery in Woodinville stepped in, and not only did they help with transport on the grapes, but they helped us destem and crush them since we were in a bind.

Which is all to say that there was a really cool group effort to bring this thing into existence. It required a bunch of people going out of their way to put time and effort in, with nothing in return, just for the sake of doing something cool and helping us out. I am endlessly grateful.

We opened this the other day out in front of the brewery, Aaron's first remark was "damn, this smells like pet-nat" and I think that was pretty dead on. When we blend varietals like this it can lead to a dizzyingly complex array of aromatics and flavors that are hard to pin down, but this beer is very mineral-driven, with beeswax and citrus aromatics, the flavor has more stone fruit and melon, honeysuckle, and then there's a big champagne-esque toast/brioche note.

This is one that I think is not close to its peak on release and I suggest further cellaring. Initial drinking suggests it is pretty good with the sediment incorporated, although you could also consider decanting it given the ABV (if you are going to do that, refrigerate upright for several days, open cold, and gently pour off the sediment into a decanter).

Bottling date: 06/15/2023
ABV: 10.08% ABV

Cellar: the grape referments tend to age best of the various fruit beers, this will probably not peak until spring/summer 2024, best by winter 2026

Bottle of 2021-2022 Worms Within the Lion's Body

2021-2022 Worms Within the Lion's Body

Three years after the first release of this dark saison we return with a new blend of Worms Within the Lion's Body. This bottling is a combination of two-year-aged 2021 harvest beer and one-year-aged 2022 harvest beer, both primary fermented in barrel and topped up with fresh organic Balaton and Montmorency cherries early during fermentation, then allowed to rest, slowly fermenting until the following spring in those barrels.

This is one of the few beers we brew where we use characterful barrels, the 2021 harvest portion of this blend, brewed now two-and-a-half years ago, was cast out into some small 350L puncheons which had formerly held a wine made from Washington-grown Grenache, Mourvedre, and Syrah gifted from a friend at a local winery. The 2022 batch includes some wet/freshly emptied Syrah barrels from the same winery. Both batches include beer fermented and aged in neutral barrels to balance the blend so that the wine barrels simply add a light note which expands on the cinnamon and baking spice character of the cherries.

For this beer we use one of our cultures which produces no noticeable acidity, as the cherries contribute plenty of their own. We've made some small improvements to the malt profile over the years of brewing this, which means that this new iteration tastes very similar to the last, but the malt and fermentation play together more harmoniously. Dark beers fermented with Brett can often exhibit harsh characteristics, so when contemplating brewing this beer again we went back to some of our foundational influences, tapping memories of bottles from the great mad Belgians at De Dolle Brouwers, and the influence of beers like Cherry Adam from the Wood cannot be overstated. That beer was brewed magically many many times by Alan Sprints of Hair of the Dog. Enormous gratitude to them.

This beer is intended to share with friends over the upcoming holidays and through the darker days of winter. Best above the 45th parallel. Please feel free to open this at warmer temperatures with a glass handy, like most dark beers it is a disservice to open it cold, and the carbonation is a touch lower than most of the pale saison we bottle.

Bottling date: 06/29/2023
ABV: 8.70% ABV

Cellar: this beer is about 50% beer brewed 2.5 years before release, and 50% beer brewed 1.5 years before release, and as such this beer is very well aged already. It will age fine, but is intended for consumption the winter of late 2023 and early 2024.


Bottle of In the Blazing Forest, B1

In the Blazing Forest, B1

14 years ago, as a hobby brewer, I began a series of blended saison that I called "Death on the Barricades." It was for me, as a brewer, one of the things I look back on most fondly. I figured out so much about saison and about being a brewer through that series of beers, and there were several blends in that line over the years which were beers I was extremely proud of and which paved the way for a lot of what's going on in Seattle brewing over the last decade.

The original of Death on the Barricades was so long ago now that I don't even know at the time what my influence was to do a series like that. Starting in 2009 it clearly predated any of the modern American breweries who do blended saison in a series, and I don't recall any of my real influences at the time (Jolly Pumpkin, Fantome, Thiriez, De Ranke) doing anything like that. Whatever the origin of the idea, that series was an outlet for me to blend aged beer with young beer, to see what happened with different aging times and different cultures. It was a playground to make cool saison and to embrace doing things that couldn't or didn't need to be recreated.

In the Blazing Forest is a way of going back to those homebrewing roots, a way to channel the joy in our work and open up new avenues of discovery. My palate and techniques and everything about me as a brewer is so different than a decade ago, so I'm exciting to see what we can do with that kind of an outlet.

This first blend happened entirely accidentally, but like most of the best things at Floodland it was about taking something unexpected and figuring out how to make the best of it on-the-fly.

I've said before, we don't brew what people call "base beers." There is no "golden sour base" here. We brew beers. Everything we brew, whether it has a codename or a real name, is a beer in and of itself and could easily be packaged unblended and be something you'd enjoy and recognize as a Floodland beer. We also brew things in lots of variations, so you could often bottle two batches of Senescence and drink them side-by-side as cool compliments to one another, variations on an idea that share a central thesis but also have their own individual character. I try not to go too deep into what beers go into what blends because I think it avoids preconceived notions. That said, this beer has two totally separate beers in it, both of which happen to be brewed with wheat and oats.

Since 2019 when we got our own brewhouse, which was designed specifically for brewing saison, we have been increasing the use of whole flower hops. Mostly we use them on the "hot side" which is to say during wort production with that brewhouse. When we dry hop beers it has mostly (with some exceptions) continued to be with pellets. We have been moving towards being able to dry hop with flower in order to take advantage of the uniquely soft and textural additions they provide. This is the first of those beers, although the dry hop here is lighter than some, maybe more akin to Segal, so like that beer we don't necessarily think of this in the same realm as some of our other heavily pellet dry hopped beers like Neither/Nor which are designed to be consumed pretty fresh (though even those over the years have improved to the point that the dry hop hangs on amazingly well over a few months). This beer is designed to change and evolve, showing more dry hop now and over time that will fall away and reveal more of the underlying barrels which went into the blend.

Aaron said he thinks this is one of the most peach-forward saisons we've released, and I think that's definitely right. There's some melon and tropical fruit as well as some citrus. I actually think in spite of the dry hop that it's still on the ascent and has likely not come close to hitting its peak quite yet. If I had two bottles I'd probably open one sometime this fall and save one for next spring/summer. Like most of the dry hop beers it drinks best once it's warmed and opened up a bit.

Bottling date: 06/01/2023
ABV: 6.98% ABV

Cellar: best before fall 2026

Bottle of MMXXI-MMXXII Riesling


We have made two prior blends of this beer. This is the third, and very likely final. We thought we would go out big with a double-vintage blend from 2021 and 2022 harvest Riesling grapes from Red Willow.

The first blend from these old vine grapes was in 2018. We destemmed and direct-pressed them, then fermented for a very long time in stainless rather than oak. That beer expressed a pretty Brett-forward character that was reminiscent of lambic lemonade. That was a very varietally correct way to process it and I thought the funk complimented it really nicely, it was a beer that I'm still really proud of and think back on a lot.

In 2019 we let the grapes undergo some skin contact and then blended in a large portion of coolship-inoculated beer, making a totally different type of beer from the same grapes.

During the 2019 harvest the Red Willow guys let me know that the primary winery who had contracted the Riesling had decided to move to a cheaper, machine-harvested vineyard for their grapes. Red Willow has a huge waiting list for wineries wanting to buy Syrah and other red varietals from them, so they planned to pull out the Riesling and plant Syrah. That was a bit heartbreaking to me and I approached Travis from Kobayashi about trying to start a side project to use the grapes so we could save the vines. This was the birth of No Estate.

The good news was that, although they planted some over to Syrah, Red Willow saved a good portion of the vines because we offered to contract them. The bad news was that after 2020 Travis didn't have the space to make the wine and so No Estate is a one-and-done label.

In 2021 we took the grapes and, with the 2018 blend still nagging at the back of my mind, direct-pressed them and allowed it to undergo fermentation in stainless with a bunch of Grails, like we'd done in '18. That beer aged in tank for about a year before we finally put it into barrel. In 2022 we made a totally different beer with heavy skin contact, and then the two were blended.

The resulting double-vintage blend pours a hazy white/gold. It opens with a distinctly NW Riesling varietal character of pear and apple crumble. That moves quickly into lime powdered candy and lemon peel with a laser acidity. Then the skin contact comes in with peach tea, tie guan yin, meadowsweet leaf. This beer, like all of them, is a living thing and it's moving in new directions every time we open a bottle, always threatening to veer into wild and unfettered territory.

While in general I think that the grape dilution of the base beers tends to overshadow whatever the base beer is, this blend shows more grain than you'd expect, an underlying note of oats and spelt. There's a lot going on here for what could be taken in a short view as just a lemon-lime spritz, when you sit with it you can almost imagine a microdose-level of letting go of gravity and floating away, a heady and pleasantly unsettling sensation.

Bottling date: 03/23/2023
ABV: 9.30% ABV

Cellar: best before fall 2026

Bottle of 2022 Collins Family

2022 Collins Family

We've now made this beer from a blend of plums and pluots three years in a row, but we're taking 2023 off from it. I was feeling like a break would be good, because as much as this is always a huge favorite of ours, I tend to enjoy taking time off and being able to think about beers before approaching them again with a fresh perspective.

In spring of this year talking to Brian Collins he said it was going to be a really light plum and pluot harvest, which reinforced that this was probably a good year to do other things. Then just a few days ago we opened a bottle of this to see how it was shaping up and it completely blew my mind. Waves of strawberry, just incredible aromatics. The palate is strawberry citrus spritz, with a really nice saison bitterness that keeps it super refreshing. So now I'm torn, half sad because we aren't going to have another of these to drink next year, but half thankful because I'm not sure I want people putting up a prospective 2023 CFO beer against this one.

When asked this spring by someone what my favorite fruit to make beer with was, the easy answer is plums. I should admit that going into working with Collins Family six years ago I was heavily skeptical of pluots and apriums or any of the other really silly names given to these cross-bred fruits. The ones I'd had weren't that great. But like with other things, Collins Family as a group were dedicated to not messing up good shit, and their pluots immediately blew my mind. As much as I love plums, some of these hybrid varietals were even better, and definitely were really diverse in their profiles, seemingly opening up a whole new world of flavors that aren't available from the dozen or so classic plums you commonly see.

We make a handful of beers that show off those individual pluots, but this beer for the last three years has been a way to blend them based on what is available in abundance at any given harvest. We pick and choose a tiny bit, but mostly it's a matter of what there is that the farm has extras of. We take all of it as times goes on and make several small beers that are all eventually blended into one whole. This technique has shown a really exciting ability to, despite the beers often having totally different fruit from year-to-year, coax out an unmistakable character that I think expresses the combination of the Collins fruit and the Floodland saison.

Bottling date: 5/11/2023
ABV: 6.33% ABV

Cellar: the plums referments tend to be more delicate and I think they are much better within the first year of bottling, this will probably be best through spring 2024.

Bottle of 2021 Death Come Quickly

2021 Death Come Quickly

(an unfortunate note that I fucked up the label on this. We label saisons by the year in which they were packaged, and so I typed 2022 when laying this out, although the consistent/proper vintage would be 2021 since we treat these honey referments as more like fruit beers and label them by the harvest year. These beers take so long to make that we'd moved well past thinking of 2021 when the labels were made in early 2023. Unfortunately the bottles were already labeled by the time I caught my mistake. It's clear from the 9/19/21 honey harvest date in the details that this should be labeled '21)

This is the third (or fourth if you count Everything Is Fire) iteration of our raw honey referments, where we take aged beer and let it undergo a slow fermentation on room temperature raw honey that we source from local apiaries. This is a really special blend because it's the first with honey from Cougar Canyon Apiaries. I wrote a bit about them in this 2022 news email that is worth revisiting:

The specific honey we used in this beer is referenced in that email, harvested at elevation from a site they keep at Buzzard Lake. Gert told me that the wildflowers there that time of year are mostly knapweed, spotted and diffuse. Knapweed is a type of thistle, and if you have spent much time in rural areas in Washington you know how invasive thistles can be and how much they have spread in recent decades. Like a bunch of invasive wildflowers, they have historical medicinal use, plus they have some beautiful flowers and bees love them, resulting in honey that is absolutely amazing. We used a star thistle and knapweed honey previously in DCQ, so it was fitting to use a similar honey in this batch.

One of the common misconceptions about honey in beer is that it adds sweetness. Honey, unlike malt/grain sugars, is completely fermentable. So it would be more accurate to say that it dries the beer out. There can be a trick that these kinds of flavors and aromatics play on your mind, though. You have years of built in sense memory which tells you that the smell of honey is sweet, so when you smell honey you can easily associate sweetness where none exists. This beer is bone dry, like most of ours (in Belgium and Italy and other places they call these dry beers "digestible" because they are known for being easier on your body, and these beers are also well documented to be healthier for you than even "regular" ales and lagers, which themselves are good for your digestive system).

The goal of Death Come Quickly and these honey referments that we started early on was to be able to take really high quality raw honey and then slowly referment it at ambient temperatures. Most brewers use honey by putting it in the kettle, which is easy because the high heat dissolves the honey, but it also nearly boils the honey which drives off a lot of subtle aroma and flavor compounds (and kills any health benefits) from the honey. It's hard to tell a beekeeper who puts an enormous amount of work into making nuanced and subtle single site honey that you are going to boil the result of their work. Additionally, a vigorous and fast fermentation would also scrub aromatics, so we baby these, which is extremely time consuming and labor intensive. The result, though, has in the past always been more than worth it, and this batch really showcases even more of a distinct honey character than any we've released before. It also has an intense lemon/lime powdered candy character, like melon jollyrancher mixed with sprite mixed with Smarties. It's exceptionally characterful and should age nicely.

The last iteration we released at 14 months in the bottle, these tend to condition very slowly. This one was tasting good for the July release but we decided to hold it back another few months. It is now approaching 11 months in the bottle. While most of the beers don't need that much time in the bottle before release, this beer moves more slowly than others, but it is definitively worth the wait.

Bottling date: 10/20/2022
ABV: 7.39% ABV

Cellar: Should drink well for the next few years. Best before fall 2025, drink by fall 2026.


Bottle of 2021-2022 Chimacum Valley

2021-2022 Chimacum Valley

About four years ago I was looking around at local grain farmers who were doing things organically that were of interest. I was hoping to find some small grain farmers on this side of the mountains. We'd brewed a few buckwheat beers with buckwheat that Skagit Valley Malting had helped us find, but their grower had stopped planting it. I found that Keith who had started Finnriver Cider had begun growing grain out on the peninsula, and I reached out. He also had spelt, although sadly no buckwheat available at the time, and since we brew with copious amounts of spelt we took a bunch of raw spelt berries and came up with a new beer with them. This became the first batch of what has evolved to finally result in this beer.

After brewing with the spelt a few years, we finally kind of nailed the beer with the third batch, brewed in late 2021. After aging that beer for about a year and a half in barrel we brewed a new batch early 2023 with 2022 harvest spelt from Keith.

I've made saison which we package in what we'd say is similar to the methode ancestrale, ie: pet nat, where the beer is bottled during primary fermentation and finishes its fermentation in the bottle to create the carbonation. We also have bottle conditioned beers using gyle, which is to say beer which was just brewed and has had yeast pitched but hasn't yet really begun fermentation (somewhat similar to krausening, which is using still-fermenting beer during the peak of early fermentation). 21/22 Chimacum Valley was made by taking very old and well aged beer and blending about 50% young (6 week old) beer in after the initial fermentation had slowed but before the latter fermentation would really kick off and dry the beer out.

Blending old beer with young beer is a classic technique which is integral to the history of saison as an agricultural product, so it seemed fitting to call back to that history with this beer which celebrates the amazing Elwha River spelt that Keith and his family are growing out in Chimacum.

The beer has some really nice floral and citrus notes, and the mouthfeel is wildly fluffy for a beer that is totally dry and has no residual sugar. We always try to drop saisons this time of year because it's so great to drink classic saison in the sun, and this is one that I expect will also age really well.

Bottling date: 02/23/2023
ABV: 5.69% ABV

Cellar: best before spring 2025

Bottle of 2023 Arise and Cease

2023 Arise and Cease

This is the third release of this beer, and to be honest the Heirloom collab we brewed was REALLY similar, so part of me thinks of this as the 4th batch. The first was made entirely in tank, and was inspired by the history of grisette. Grisette was a cousin beer to saison which would have had a mixed culture and been tank fermented and served young before it got too funky. So when we made the second batch of this the fermentation was going slowly and we had to clear it out of tank and into barrel, so we used the widely-loved "long name" label to differentiate it from the first batch.

I think in the last few years I've chilled out a bit about those kinds of differentiations and realized that almost nobody but me really cares about that level of minutiae. So since there's been so many white label beers lately we brought back the original label for this with art. This beer has had some slight variations but this one hews pretty close to the last batch, the only difference being we used entirely whole flower hops on this one, which I think gives it a very classic saison profile.

This beer, as in the past, is being released young while it's still pretty hoppy and has a pretty clean/saison fermentation profile. What's going to happen is that it's going to continue to evolve in the bottle. I really suggest having a bottle now and then keeping it somewhere not too cold for a while and coming back and having another one in like a year to see how it's evolved. At some point in the interim it's going to start getting wild and it's best to just let it go on that journey and do its thing. I don't recommend keeping this in a wine fridge if you are someone who does that (in general I don't recommend that with any saison but definitely not this one).

Also of note, in past years we've gyled this beer to condition. I wanted to see how using honey would change it this time, as I think it results in a bit less bottle sediment which tends to age better, so you'll see that the lab-tested ABV is 4.4% instead of the previous 3.9% when we use gyle... that's a result of us doing lab tested ABVs post-condition which tend to accurately show how drastically conditioning affects the final abv. The beer is still really light and has a wildly pale glow, it's very aromatic, super refreshing, and a quintessential summer crusher.

Bottling date: 05/18/2023
ABV: 4.41% ABV

Cellar: drink summer 2023 and/or cellar til spring 2024, best before fall 2024

Bottle of 2022 Filaree

2022 Filaree

This was one of our favorite beers in 2021, and that was part of the reason I wanted to make it again. I also wanted to try to make another blend so that we could incorporate all of the plums JC grows.

Since 2017 we've taken JC's Elephant Heart plums and made Nothing/All, and we've blended his Shiro and Howard's Miracle plums into Time/Eternity. In 2021 we were also able to get some of his Santa Rosa plums and so those and the Elephant Heart made Filaree. In 2022 JC also has a new Green Gage tree that's producing fruit, so we combined all five plums. I think this gives the beer even more depth, and the strawberry/fruit punch juiciness of this totally explodes out of the glass. If you wanted to explain to someone why plum beers are the absolute shit you'd just give them a pour of this. Every time I open one I end up grinning like a kid.

Each year the amount of the plums the trees produce varies, a few of these come from very old trees and there's one large tree which produces the Shiro, for example. This year there were a lot of Elephant Hearts and less Santa Rosa, and the Elephant Heart are darker, so it's good to have all the pale plums (Shiro/Howard's/Green Gage) in there because it maintains a similar dark pink as in 2021.

One of the questions we get asked is: which beer should I drink first? This one. Drink this one first. It's one of our best beers, in my opinion.

Bottling date: 12/08/2022
ABV: 6.14% ABV

Cellar: I think the plum beers are so good in the first year, I'd just drink it this summer/fall, best by spring 2024

Bottle of MMXXII The Object of Devotion

MMXXII The Object of Devotion

Our second iteration on this beer. The first was inspired when we got this insane Grenache pomace from our buds at Avennia Winery. Aaron brought it back to the brewery and when we opened up the doors to the truck it just smelled like muddled cucumbers, in the best way possible. I immediately just threw away the existing plan for the blend and grabbed all the gin barrels we had and made the beer. This time we were prepared to make it and we were also able to get Marsanne pomace to coferment with the Grenache. The result is a little bit paler than the 2020 version, but the depth of fruit character is much better and the blend of gin beers is MUCH more gin forward. Normally I'm really light handed with the gin, but this blend is Transmigration-ish in its balance of fruit, gin, and the kind of spritzy citrus/floral Floodland fermentation character.

The emergency that caused us to have no green glass late 2022 and early 2023 ended with us buying clear glass to keep bottling, and this is the final of those bottlings. The grape beers which tend to have longer aging times and where the hops are more diluted with grapes don't skunk, so the clear glass works great for them. This beer is a beauty and I really hope you all enjoy it as much as we do. It's one for the books.

Bottling date: 02/09/2023
ABV: 8.95% ABV

Cellar: best before fall 2024


Bottle of 2022 Field Blend (peach and pluot)

2022 Field Blend (peach and pluot)

Field Blend was a foundational element of Floodland, it introduced that we often make beers as part of a conceptual series and was intended as a statement that we don't like doing things in a hyper-literal sense. These beers are not field blends per se, it is a twist on the idea of a field blend being a collection of fruit from a specific place and instead it whirls on the axis and brings together fruit from a specific point in time. Everyone who has heard of or read about NOMA has begun putting "time and place" in their instagram bios over the last decade, as if it elevates their ideas. We don't really claim to make beer that speaks to a specific place, our beers are more rooted in a specific aesthetic and vibe as a reflection of intent. If you were at the old Zymurgy series of events you heard me rant a bit about terroir in beer being bullshit, so I won't belabor that particular point.

These sets of beers we do share a name and sometimes similar/evolving label art and are composed of many individual beers which explore a particular idea. This remains a key part of what we do and is unsurprisingly a divisive way to make beer. For some it is compelling, it's a journey, a trip. If you think about beer in terms of spreadsheets and Untappd check-ins then it's probably frustrating and confusing. Field Blend isn't always Field Blend and Seekers isn't always Seekers.

As we dig deeper into working with similar fruit varietals year after year you begin to get a sense of the fruit and learn about how it likes to be processed, what ripeness you prefer it at, when you prefer it to be harvested. Some things are bursting at the seams early on and then fade aromatically as they ripen. Some can hang on the tree for months and often are harvested too early out of fear of the fruit overripening and falling from the tree. The varietals in this are both the latter and we were lucky to get a small last pick of them both at the same time at the very, very end of the season in Fall last year. We've worked with the Flavor Grenade pluots quite a bit, in Exoculo as well as in Collins Family blends. The O'Henry peaches we used in 2021 Seekers After Light.

The O'Henrys are a very subtle peach and are more about the delicate florality than intensity of some of the other peaches we really enjoy. For this blend we steered into that subtlety and made a blend where we tried to let both the peach and the pluot coexist without one overwhelming the other, and at the same time tried to allow the saison to shine through and show some nice hop aromatics. So this is more an exercise in subtlety than a hit-you-over-the-head beer. For those who want everything to be shocking or blog-inducing then again Floodland will dissapoint you, but I'm guessing that's a vast minority on this list. I don't always want everything to be intense all the time. Sometimes I like to just sit on the porch and drink a really nice beer.

Unsurprisingly for a peach beer it presents really nicely if you open it warmer and if you incorporate the sediment in the bottle. Shake that shit up AFTER you open it.

Bottling date: 01/26/2023
ABV: 6.23% ABV
Cellar: please drink by spring 2024.

Bottle of 2023 In the Meadows

2023 In the Meadows

From my email two years ago the first time we released this beer:

This beer maybe had its roots in 2018 when Steve Luke from Cloudburst suggested that I brew with a hop he thought was cool. We try not to talk too much about individual hops we use because I think it can give you preconceived notions that don't match the beers. So we made a beer with it right when we got our brewhouse in late 2019 and it was used in Hex and Seekers and we ran out of it so fast that we figured we needed to brew more of it the next time around. In 2020 we brewed a double batch of it into one of our horizontal foudres, and realized that maybe we needed more than two batches as it became a go-to with half our fruit beers. The base beer is a blend of a few barleys with raw barley, raw wheat, and raw oats and has a pronounced citrus character.

Similarly, I had gotten some organic hops of a variety we'd never used before a few years back and we ended up brewing a sort of variation on Grails with it that was similarly light, but the hops pulled it in a more tropical/ripe direction than the more floral hops in Grails. That beer also caught on as we used a touch of it in our dandelion beer Beheld and it went easily into so many blends when we needed to bring some brightness or lighten a beer up.

In late June we were scheduled to bottle and the beer we were going to put into glass ended up needing just a bit more time. I was craving saison at the time and we just had transferred the first saison out of the oak tank and I'd been doing sensory on some barrels. The blend came together almost on its own and was so pleasant that we just went with it.

After the first release of that beer we continued to brew these saison and to try to improve them. We made slight changes from batch to batch and they have continued to work really nicely with fruit. So this is very simply a new-and-hopefully-improved blend based on what we have learned sitting with that first blend of the beer and drinking it and then working day-in and day-out to improve the constituent beers we use for the blend. It hits aromatically as unmistakeably Floodland and also distinctly this beer. It bears similarities to our other saison but is somehow its own thing.

When we were drinking it the other week I remembered a conversation with Shane from E9 years ago when I asked about one of his saison that I really like. Shane is one of the people I most enjoy talking about beer and brewing with, he's about as smart as they come and is a phenomenally talented and driven brewer. He said the beer I was asking about was always blended from three component beers and that they all had to be at different ages, so blending the beer was a total pain in the ass because of how much work went into setting it up. At the time I was brewing professionally at Holy Mountain and had been a serious/obsessive hobby brewer who had been aging and blending saison for quite a few years before that.

The idea of that kind of blend seemed preposterous and was totally out of my experience. I figured you could certainly synthesize a single recipe which would achieve the same results, that the process was overwrought. Now, years later I look back and realize that I was just an idiot and that Shane, unsurprisingly, was at a more advanced level of blending than I was.

When you start blending it's easy to fall into the trap that a more complex blend is better, this is part pretentiousness and part preciousness and it fades over some years into a period where you blend less and less as you get better at what you do. Then, in cases like this, pieces sometimes emerge which require distinct components to exist. Maybe 2025 Floodland will blend a wildly unique beer that is comprised of three distinct recipes and can't be made any other way... it'll be good to finally catch up to where Shane was at in 2015.

Bottling date: 01/05/2023
ABV: 5.96% ABV
Cellar: Drink by this spring 2024. It'll probably peak summer 2023 and over time it'll become more soft/acidic which will enhance the body, but you'll lose the hop aromatics, which I think are key in making it taste the way I enjoy.

Bottle of 2022 Neither/Nor

2022 Neither/Nor

This is one of my favorite beers each year. I often get bored of making the same beer more than two or three years in a row, but I have yet to feel that way about this beer. The last version was really high on my list of things I enjoyed drinking last year and my only criticism (besides the fact that people age them and then send them to unsuspecting traders across the country who don't realize they are being played) was that it had a touch more acidity than I wanted. So I went back to years of notes of making these beers, which undergo primary fermentation on spent fruit from other beers' refermentations, and I looked at all the various things we'd tried and rediscovered a few tricks I had forgotten about to control the acidity.

Every year this beer is totally different because it's entirely based on what fruit we have available at what times and also trying to find fruit where we don't have to immediately turn the tank to make another first-use fruit beer, because squeezing this in between other things becomes a really tricky balancing act and requires a lot of extra work to do so many transfers. So this year not only did we successfully lower the acid but we were also able to use 10 varietals of second-use fruit (I forgot three when I was typing out the label, the beer also has Santa Rosa plums from Filaree, Red Haven peaches and Red Gold nectarines from RAMA).

Thanks to Matt Storm from Fast Fashion/The Masonry we got a really nice lot of some New Zealand hops that we were able to incorporate into the dry hop. I'm really really pleased with how this batch turned out. Please think of this beer like it's pale ale and drink it a few time this spring/summer and be done with it.

(note as usual we use a single digit abv on this because it's not lab-tested post-condition, we don't have time to do that after this one and still release it fresh, so we lab test it in the tank and this was 5.46% and we estimate about .4% increase from bottle conditioning)

Bottling date: 04/06/2023
ABV: 5.9% ABV
Cellar: drink fresh, do not age

Bottle of  MMXXI No Echoes

MMXXI No Echoes

This beer was made in conjunction with Nat from Brouwer's as part of the brainstorming sessions for their anniversary beer. He was looking to do something with Copperworks Distillery, who are in downtown Seattle near the aquarium. I immediately had the idea for this beer, but wanted to use a more neutral/older cask than the normal New American Oak casks that they use for their barrel aged gin. Thankfully Jason at Copperworks had a very old sherry bota which they had been aging gin in for over a year. This beer is the result of them sharing that cask with us.

While we've explored the combination of grape pomace and gin before with Object of Devotion (and will again as we blended one from 2022), this beer pulls in a much different direction. We usually use gin barrels as an accent, not a focus. We don't think about spirit barrels the way a brewery who makes stout does, the gin is not a focal point, it's a component that usually ends up slotting in below hops and fruit and fermentation character. It tends to sit more like the malt does, as a base that emphasizes other elements of the beer.

No Echoes is a break from that style of making saison and instead here gin is a focus of the beer. This was a convoluted blend and a time-consuming beer to make, we blended saison macerated for quite some time on Melon pomace from Johan as well as Marsanne pomace from Boushey. The Melon pomace beer was really cool, really dry and citrusy and funky. The Marsanne beer was very floral and fluffy. We tied these together with some Riesling beer which added body and dimension and emphasized the citrus characters. It all went through the big gin bota in one cuvee and then a second, and after the first pass went through it was further aged in another Copperworks gin barrel as well as a few Big Gin barrels.

Throughout the process I'd been wanting to experiment with using gin botanicals in a gin beer to help emphasize some of the character which is lost in the process of barrel aging. When we went to assemble this blend we found that the only thing we felt it needed was a single point of focus to bring the citrus character together, so I gort some organic meyer lemons from a little family farm and that maceration was just the light touch it needed. The 2021 pomace is from some of the same blends we used in The Constellatory Practice, and like that beer and Everything is Fire from that year it has big, soft, drying grape tannin, which in this beer is balanced by some creamy/vanilla-y oak and some texture from the sherry cask, although you have to go searching for that little bit of sherry funk as it is totally drowning in a sea of gin.

Bottling date: 01/12/2023
ABV: 8.66% ABV
Cellar: best by Fall 2024


Bottle of Brouwer's XVIII

Brouwer's XVIII

Some of our beers are more experimental and push boundaries of texture and aromatics... brewing a very focused set of beers with the intense limitations we put on ourselves is often more difficult than you might expect. We don't have glycol and we don't have a cold room, everything is mixed culture, everything is refermented to carbonate... so we are constantly changing how we do things, both to try to improve the beers and to keep it interesting for us. As much as making the weird ones is often the most fun, sometimes we want to do really classic beers in the Belgian tradition. This beer is both that and also classically Floodland.

In late 2021 Aaron and I drove over to Big Gin and met up with our buddy Alex who is the head distiller there. He handed some barrels off to us, we loaded our vehicles up, and drove them the 10 minutes back to the brewery and filled them with saison.

We've taken the organic cherries from Michael Simon at Applecart Fruit since 2017. In the last few years that portion of the farm has been farmed by Jerushah and Nico, all of them organic farmers who are part of a cooperative of farmers in the Okanogan Valley. The Montmorencies there are great, but the Balatons are even better, and we used those exclusively for this beer. In an attempt to balance the cherry character the gin character is as prominent as we've ever made, and the cherry character sits somewhere between the 2017 Cherry Field blend and latter iterations of Waxwing.

The blend for this, like Bottleworks, includes a touch of old beer and a touch of young beer, although most of the blend is about a year old, which is a sweet spot for saison the way we brew it. 

Cheers most especially to Nat at Brouwer's, but also to Vern and everyone who has worked there over the years. We appreciate you.

Bottling date: 09/29/2022
ABV: 7.09% ABV
Cellar: please drink by Fall 2024

Bottle of 2022 Drive Out the Spirits

2022 Drive Out the Spirits

This is the first time we've released this beer since the 2017 harvest blend, which was part of the very first Oakworks release. That year we also made a second-use blueberry beer called No Here, No Hereafter. Both of those, to my tastes, were among our best beers that year and NH/NH especially was one of the defining Floodland beers for me.

As much as I loved those first beers the fruit was conventionally farmed and I wanted to find organic blueberries to work with. In 2020 a farmer had put me in touch with another farmer and we got good organic berries, so we tried to make this beer again. After months of refermentation we found that the beer had picked up a really light smoke character from some wildfires that we didn't know had reached the farm, so we didn't release that beer.

In 2022 we went back to the original blueberry farm I'd planned to work with in 2017, Bow Hill Blueberries. They are now under new ownership and a friend put us in touch. We took two varietals and fermented them separately to try to get a sense of how they differed. The one thing I'd learned from the first change in fruit was how difficult it is to anticipate what a fermented blueberry will taste like compared to eating it out-of-hand. Blueberries, like grapes, have so much tannin and just generally weird shit in them that the fermented product tastes very little like the fruit itself. While we'd magically hit upon seemingly ideal blueberries the first year, I am now of the mind that chasing the right berries to make this beer may be a fun ongoing path to follow.

This beer is packaged in clear glass, again a result of our shortage of glass bottles which left us without as much green glass as we needed. The clear glass is 3x the cost and so we're just eating that, this will be the second of three beers we had to use it for this year, I figured with the color of this beer it would be fun and we also did new art for the label.

This beer hits with a big blueberry candy aromatic that goes very grape-textured on the palate. It's dry and moves into classic blueberry funk, barnyardy and wild. There's still a touch of hoppiness hanging out that will likely fade out and I think that'll be when the beer really peaks, so this is a rare beer which I think would do well with another 6+ months in the bottle. Probably will drink best between September 2023 and Spring 2024.

Bottling date: 11/03/2022
ABV: 6.14% ABV
Cellar: best before Winter 2024

Bottle of 2022 Inevitably it Ends

2022 Inevitably it Ends

We first released this beer about two years ago, a successor of sorts to Altar, which was the same beer just hopped a little less in the kettle and then dry hopped. Although the prior blend of this was well received, I wasn't entirely happy with it and we took a bit of time off of brewing it after that release.

In talking to Matt Storm (of Fast Fashion/The Masonry) about it I mentioned that I felt that our hop sourcing was holding back the quality of the beers. We are very very small and in the brewing industry the best hops go most often to large breweries who contract enough volume to be able to select their lots first. The leftovers go to everyone else and so the quality can be hit and miss. Matt very kindly hooked us up with a really good lot of some of the hops we use in this beer. This blend, which is drawn from three batches of the beer aged for various amounts of time, shows those hops off nicely. We increased the kettle hopping a tiny bit but otherwise this beer is largely brewed and fermented the same way we had been doing it in order for us to really dig into the specifics of the hop bill and dial it in.

That's a long way of saying that I much prefer this to the last blend, that beer showed some bubblegum thiols from the hops interacting with Brett which I found distracting. This blend maintains some of the strawberry and tropical character, but leans heavily citrus: orange rind, grapefruit, lemon/lime, and if you incorporate the dregs (as I tend to do when drinking hoppy saison) then you get more of the POG tropical character to balance out the citrus. It definitely gets cool as the carb blows off and it comes up to room temperature.

Like the first Altar, this is definitely one of my favorite beers and I find it endlessly drinkable. It walks the line between my love of saison and pale ale, the latter of which are exceedingly hard to find in the style I used to brew, so this is about as close as I get.

Bottling date: 11/17/2022
ABV: 6.68% ABV

Cellar: best before Winter 2024

Bottle of 2022 RAMA

2022 RAMA

When trying to find the "best" fruit for making beer with you intuitively start with what tastes best out-of-hand. Because when we referment fruit all the sugar is stripped out this doesn't always translate, notably with berries you'll find that other flavors and aromatics which are hidden behind the sugar come out. After that refermentation the balance that you enjoy when you eat the fruit no longer exists.

Peaches are the fruit where it is most likely that what tastes good to eat tastes good in beer, and over a bunch of years as a hobby brewer, and then especially in 2016 while working on starting up Floodland, I tried every local peach I could get a hold of. RAMA's were hands-down the best, followed closely by Collins Family. RAMA was a more obscure farm, at the time they only sold at the U-District Farmer's Market on Saturdays (and now they only sell directly) so I wasn't sure if we could get fruit from them or not.

In early 2017 I had called them up on the phone and talked to Marilynn, one of the two owners. She was very kind but told me that no, I couldn't get fruit from them for beer. I checked in again a few months later and the answer was the same, but as we got to talking I mentioned picking fruit ourselves. She was surprised that we'd be willing to do that and said that the harvest was expected to run late that year and that the kids who often help them pick were going to be back in school before the final trees were harvested, leaving a gap where there would be too much fruit for just the two of them to pick.

So in mid September that year I headed out to Bridgeport with my very good friend Seth. He had just left his position as the lead brewer at the place we'd formerly worked together. For us it was a really fun way to get back to briefly working together, a road trip in his short window of time off before he and his wife moved to Oregon to be closer to family. Getting to work with one of your best friends is a gift, and I'm still really grateful that he and I got to take that and some other trips that year (if you came to either of the two dinners we did with Hogstone at QA Masonry in January 2020 then you had the cider from Guemes Island that he and I also made that year).

This trip was towards the end of harvest for Floodland and I was burning out, so having someone else along to get in the truck at 3am to drive 5 hours was also helpful. Starting a brewery and then moving on to start another brewery was a gut-wrenchingly difficult task and our daughter was turning 1 right during that first harvest. Honestly, it's a testament to how fun it was that I remember any of it at all given my general exhaustion.

I had met Rick and Marilynn in person at the Farmer's Markets, but spending time picking and sorting peaches with them really bonded us and made the relationship between our brewery and their farm more personal. Rick was laser-focused on how the peaches had to be picked and handled, he was as picky about it as I am about how we make the beer, and so I immediately felt a connection beyond just an appreciation of their fruit. We helped pick Blushing Star peaches that year and drove back with a lot of nectarines that became 2017 Meditation on Light.

We continued taking fruit from Rick and Marilynn every year until in 2020 when, stranded in Hawaii and having a hard time getting back due to COVID, they decided to pass the reins of the farm to their son Nathan. The 2020 transition was easy and the fruit remained excellent, Nathan was profoundly qualified and had not only a respect for the way things were done at RAMA but also a deeply technical background in organic farming. At the very end of the 2020 harvest wildfires hit and RAMA was overrun. The alpaca had thankfully just been moved off the farm property, and as the fires came in they turned on the irrigation system and evacuated.

Most of you remember our 2020 fundraiser to help raise funds for Nathan's brother Ben, who had been working with Nathan and had, with his son, been living on the farm property. The fire damaged a portion of the orchards, and entirely destroyed all the buildings including the living and working quarters as well as the pump house and irrigation systems. In 2021 Nathan was forced to let the trees rebuild their strength as he worked to get the farm infrastructure rebuilt.

We were psyched beyond belief when RAMA fruit returned to us in 2022. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, and Nathan's fruit was better than ever, although in smaller quantities. He has a long road ahead of him of replanting some of the orchard, peach trees take years to bear fruit. So in 2022, not knowing what volumes he'd have for us, we decided to blend many of the varietals to make a white label RAMA single farm beer. We put the Rival apricots into 2021-2022 Seekers and the rest of the fruit all went into this peach blend. As most of you know, nectarines are just peaches with a small genetic abnormality which leads to them not having fuzz (peaches will sometimes spontaneously turn to nectarines, which tends to be a trait which isn't advantageous to the fruit as the lack of fuzz makes them more prone to pest and disease pressure). So this three peach blend is Red Haven peaches, Red Gold nectarines, and Blushing Star peaches which normally would go into Firmament/Transmigration, Meditation, and Fallow, respectively.

The fruiting rate on this is similar to most of our recent peach beers, maybe a touch on the light side because we wanted to strike that balance where the saison and the fruit both show themselves. There's that classic RAMA floral character here, as well as tropical notes of melon, pineapple, as well as some Floodland-y citrus. If you like the other RAMA beers then you'll like this, I think it's one of the most balanced and drinkable beers we've released from their fruit.

As with all of our peach beers I recommend not cellaring this for too long, I know some people are just going to ignore that, but these beers really really drink best within the first year, which is to say within the next 6-7 months. I personally enjoy them with the sediment incorporated, so pour a few half-glasses and then swirl and top with the beer once the sediment is incorporated.

Bottling date: 11/10/2022
ABV: 6.98% ABV
Cellar: best by Fall 2023


Bottle of MMXXI Coming-to-Be

MMXXI Coming-to-Be

There was a lot of me thinking out loud while walking around the brewery which led to us making the first OW beer of 2022, Ceasing-to-Be. It was a beer whose creation I struggled with. Putting blackberries on Pinot beer seemed so basic. It was such an obvious idea that I kind of hated it. Ceasing was about taking blackberry, the immediate sensory note we got from the Pinot beer, and reinforcing it by adding actual Blackberries. That's only compelling so much as blackberries don't really taste like blackberries so much when they referment, they end up so different once the sugar is gone.

That beer, as a counterpoint to Coming-to-Be, became much more interesting for me. The idea for this was to add to Gamay press running refermented beer the fruit which most of my favorite Beaujolais Gamay present with – cherry. The Gamay we've worked with from the Willamette is nice, but US-grown Gamay never has that brilliant cherry character you get particulary in Fleurie and Morgon.

So while Ceasing-to-Be was about reinforcing more of what was there, Coming-to-Be became about adding what was missing.

Prior to the grapes being harvested we took a bunch of Van cherries from Collins Family Orchards, and after we made 2021 Van we racked fresh wort directly onto the spent cherries and made a second use beer from them. After harvesting the Gamay grapes we put them in a tank and let them undergo semi-carbonic maceration for a few weeks. The grapes were pressed, the pomace was used to make Voice-Hearers, and the press runnings were blended with the Van beer to referment. After aging we then refermented that beer on some Balaton cherries farmed by Jerushah and Nico who took over these trees on the old Weddle Farm under the license of Michael Simon at Applecart Fruit.

The Johan fruit often has a really great barnyard vibe and that's here, as it was in the recently released Contellatory Practice which had some Johan white pomace, as well as Flowers of the Field, which was the other 2021 Johan beer we made. The Van cherries provide a lot of floral character and together with the candied cherry the Balatons the result both recalls my favorite Beajolais and is its own distinct thing.

In the 6 years we've been playing with coferments of grapes and other fruit I think this is maybe one of if not the most special of those beers we've made.

Bottling date: 08/11/2022 - the label erroneously says 10/11/22
ABV: 8.57% ABV
Cellar: please drink by Summer 2024.

Bottle of MMXXI Chardonnay

MMXXI Chardonnay

This beer exists thanks to Damon Lalonde, who manages the French Creek Vineyard. He reached out and asked if we would want to use the fruit a few years ago. I was familiar with the vineyard because Devium makes a really really great Mourvedre from there and Mourvedre is one of my favorite varietals. Chardonnay in most of its incarnations is not one of my favorite varietals (even with Champagne I prefer blanc de noir), but it's so versatile and seems so well suited to our beers that I wanted to give it a try. I was really pleased with how the first iteration of this beer, MMXX Chardonnay, turned out. We had gotten things lined up late that year and so we go very late harvest fruit, which wasn't ideal for our purposes, and so I was really looking forward to picking closer to mid-season in 2021.

One of the great things about making vintage beers is that I don't feel any need to make the beer the same way twice. Our beers aren't IPAs and nobody expects that the 2021 version of a beer will taste the same as the 2020 version. This is reinforced by the fact that the beers naturally evolve quite a bit as they age. In making the 2021 iteration of the Chardonnay beer I really wanted to work in a similar manner to 2020. I was writing another brewer an email recently and I said "it's easy to occasionally make a great beer, harder to make a wide swath of exceptional beers. The hardest thing as a brewer is to take a really good beer and improve on it through iteration." The part I missed is that we only get to iterate on beers once a year, and while we're making the next year's vintage the previous isn't even ready yet so we have a 2-year feedback delay before we can really even react to what was good or bad. It becomes a matter of closing your eyes and driving by feel.

Thankfully I think everyone who has had this vintage of Chardonnay prefers it to 2020, which isn't to take away from that beer, but we did refine it a bit here. I say that all mostly because I'm thankful that I already decided to make the 2022 version of this differently, because this would be hard for me to improve upon.

Bottling date: 08/18/2022
ABV: 9.41% ABV
Cellar: best before Summer 2024

Bottle of 2021-2022 Endless Spheres

2021-2022 Endless Spheres

This beer began with the idea that we'd make a sister-beer to Dwellers and Beheld and ended up being much more in the lineage of Lupus. We began working with Tyler from Methow Medicinal Herb Farm in 2018 or 2019 as he's the only person growing organic wormwood in Washington that I'm aware of, and we use some of his herbs and botanicals in many of the blends of Roseate. In talking to him he asked if we used Calendula flower. I'd used it years ago as a hobby brewer, but never for a beer at Floodland. He sent some over once it was harvested and we brewed a spelt saison with it and put it into barrels.

The blending and aging history of this beer is convoluted, but the short version is that we used 2021 Calendula flower and some 2021 and 2022 citrus in it. The majority of the blend is that spring 2021 spelt beer, but we added some other components and over the course of about 16 months it aged on both Seville orange (the varietal used in orange marmalade) and Cara Cara orange (one of my favorite eating oranges). We also further macerated it on dried calendula in tank before bottling.

In the distant past I had made citrus beers as a hobby brewer and professionally and always had fine results, but never anything I was really pleased with. Over a handful of citrus beers in the years I've been brewing at Floodland I've really moved on from the more rudimentary techniques I used in the past. After the first citrus and gold raspberry Field Blend in 2017 I put a lot of thought into how to get the beers to be more the way I imagined them. Leading up to the first Superior Stabat Lupus batch and since that time I have developed and refined a handful of processes to get the type of character I like. I wasn't really consciously aware of that refinement of processes until I was explaining how we put the citrus into this beer to someone at the brewery recently and realized I was hesitant to talk about it because I had never heard of people using the techniques we do. There's 3-4 things we do differently depending on the beer and the citrus, and we used a few of those here. Like Lupus and our other citrus beers this one is bright and well-rounded. Unlike other citrus beers this one has already been aged a bit so the character, while not as bombastic as it could be, is somewhat stable and should be able to age for a good amount of months and still be really enjoyable.

The citrus hits first aromatically and is at the front on the palate, but the calendula is right behind it, especially if you don't drink the beer too cold. Citrus remains the only non-local fruit we use and it's just because we like drinking these beers so much. The calendula on this is a really great addition, it lends texture and complimentary aromatics to the zippiness of the citrus.

Bottling date: 09/15/2022
ABV: 5.64% ABV

Cellar: best before Spring 2024

Bottle of 2021-2022 Seekers After Light

2021-2022 Seekers After Light

Our saison refermented on a blend of white grape pomaces and stone fruit is back, and this marks the return of the RAMA Farm fruit as well. While we made two batches of Seekers for release last year, there is only one for release this year and it's our two-vintage version with long-macerated pomace.

The 2020-2021 version was my favorite from last year so we made another one in that vein, which is a throwback to the original 2017-2018 version with apricots. This version is 2021 harvest Marsanne whole cluster grape pomace from Boushey Vineyard and Melon de Bourgogne whole cluster pomace from Johan Vineyard. We aged/refermented beer on both of them separately for around 10 months during the offseason. When the next harvest rolled around we transferred that beer onto apricots, one of the first fruits we get during harvest, and let it referment.

I had hoped to do this entirely with RAMA Rival apricots, but we didn't get quite as many as we had projected, so we supplemented with some Candy Cot apriums from Collins Family, which is what we'd used last year while RAMA was recovering from the wildfires. The fruit-leather and citrus of the Rivals unsurprisingly blends very nicely with the eponymous candy character of the CFO fruit. The 2021 pomace does what it did best, which is that heat dome sun tea thing. This iteration is a bit funky and has some dried orange/apple/pear/tropical characters to it. I like that all the iterations of Seekers are entirely their own things with little variations. This one is really fun to drink and I'm confident nobody will be disappointed.

This beer, like all the peach/nectarine/apricot beers, drinks best with the lees incorporated. I suggest rolling the bottle gently before pouring and if you aren't comfortable doing that I suggest pouring a few half glasses, swirling the bottle, and then topping them up once you have the lees incorporated.

Bottling date: 10/06/2022
ABV: 6.59% ABV
Cellar: best by Summer 2023


Bottle of 2022 Crimson Red

2022 Crimson Red

We’re rounding out the year without an inclusive bottle, but we have this beer which won’t be a part of the public sale instead. During the last few years of making Roseate we have used organic rhubarb from LIving Rain Farm in Mount Vernon. In a few of those batches we made the rhubarb beer and then put it on cherries, and we noticed when sampling it that the rhubarb character was really interesting and that it had a beautiful pink color.

I was thinking about enjoying the simplicity of beers like Yuzu which we made for Brokeworks last year and so we made this simple rhubarb beer. The rhubarb itself brings a lot of acidity and this beer shows that. As it bottle conditioned the color dropped out almost entirely and faded to a light blush. The rhubarb flavor after aging is more reminiscent of powdered candies than anything - Fun Dip specifically. So basically if you like sour candy then this is for you.

Bottling date: 08/04/2022
ABV: 5.21% ABV
Cellar: please drink by Summer 2023.

Bottle of MMXXI Flowers of the Field

MMXXI Flowers of the Field

The last few harvests have been fairly grueling for us and well before they are over I’m entirely out of energy and behind on everything both at work and at home, so in 2022 I decided that we needed to focus a bit more and not burn out. Taking fruit from Johan was one of the sad casualties of that decision. Ironically the two beers we made with 2021 Johan fruit are probably the two best beers we’ve ever made from there (the second will come out in January). As sad as it is to stop using their fruit in 2022 it felt okay to close that chapter, the farmer/winemaker Dan Rinke left Johan as well (Dan also does Art + Science with his wife, Kim) and after the 2021 harvest they also had an ownership change. Dan is still a buddy of ours and I highly recommend you check out the Art+Science wines and ciders if you haven’t already.

Flowers of the Field began as an idea to create a Burgundian-blend of Pinot and skin contact Chardonnay because we had a really nice crop of 2021 Chardonnay from French Creek. This year is a Pinot-heavy blend, although I wouldn’t be surprised if in the future we make other variations on this. It’s hard to guess the proportions but maybe 70/30. The Pinot takes the spotlight with the color but the Chardonnay really brings out the citrus elements in the saison in the flavor and aroma, it also shines a real spotlight on the fruit character of the pinot, which normally leans towards spice but here has big red-fruit elements and is very fun and juicy.

Due to all the supply chain issues we’ve seen, which I normally try really hard to not let affect the beer, we were set to run out of glass bottles in 2022. When this became apparent I spent a bunch of time and was finally able to track down the same bottles in a few other colors, including several pallets of flint (clear) glass. So this beer is bottled entirely in clear glass. It’s basically grown-up hawaiian punch.

Bottling date: 06/02/2022
ABV: 8.23% ABV
Cellar: best before Summer 2024.

Bottle of 2021 The Constellatory Practice

2021 The Constellatory Practice

In 2017 we made the first Seekers after Light, blending long skin contact Chardonnay pomace with Apricots. We’ve made a number of versions since with peaches/nectarines, apricots, and apriums. Every year leading up to harvest I have a list of beers we want to make that year. As each harvest moves on beers are added and removed based on availability of fruit. In 2018 or 2019 the idea of a pluot/pomace beer from pale plums and white pomace snuck onto the list and it has stayed on every harvest’s list since without actually happening.

In 2020 we made fewer grape beers because of how bad the wildfires were, so in 2021 I dove headlong back into it and we took more grapes than we ever have. To make this happen we sacrificed making Time/Eternity and used the plums from it (Shiro and Howard’s Miracle from Filaree Fruit) as well as some Flavor Grenade pluots from Collins Family along with a blend of white grape pomaces (mostly Marsanne from Boushey Vineyard in Yakima which we got from our friends at Avennia Winery) as well as some Melon de Bourgogne (the varietal used in Muscadet) from Johan.

Thinking of how intense and out of balance the original Seekers had been I decided to start this one at the other end of the spectrum, it’s nuanced and light and very crushable. It’s quintessential Floodland in that it’s better to be consumed at home at dinner than at a bottle share. Its virtues are in its balance and the subtle ways it opens up as you drink it. The way that the tropical citrus character of the Shiro bounces against the strawberry ice cream flavor of the Flavor Grenade, all backed with that oceanic texture of the pomace. The Marsanne pomace was citrusy and had some nice floral characters. The Melon pomace is very mineral forward, funky, and citrusy.

This is not a hit-you-over-the-head beer, it’s very very enjoyable and easy to drink. Every time we open one it’s gone almost immediately.

Bottling date: 07/07/2022
ABV: 6.48% ABV
Cellar: best before Fall 2023.

Bottle of 2022 Dwellers by the Waysides

2022 Dwellers by the Waysides

Our third iteration of this is my favorite so far. Certainly if I had to give someone one beer to represent Floodland this beer would be at or near the top of the list. This is the most yarrow-forward of the blends (although dramatically less yarrow-heavy than the last yarrow beer we had from another brewery). We made some changes to how we do the yarrow macerations which I believe are an improvement in capturing some of the subtleties of the yarrow flowers.

Aaron had found a new spot to forage yarrow near his mom’s cabin in the Methow Valley, so the creation of this beer this year was spur of the moment and as such we blended in some older 18+ month barrels I had tagged for another blend, they lend a depth to it that the other blends may not have had. It’s rare with our saison that a beer is better at 18 months than at 12. More is not better, older is not better. These barrels we’d identified as being special and held for longer and they served their purpose well in this blend, allowing us to again balance the tropical/7-up character of the yarrow against the citrus/floral character of the hops. It’s the way the two of them play against each other that makes this beer great.

Bottling date: 07/14/2022
ABV: 5.76% ABV
Cellar: best by Summer 2023.