Palouse Pint

Palouse Heritage Featured at Spokane’s Farm & Food Expo


Spokane’s second Farm & Food Expo was held November 3-4, 2017, at Spokane Community College where we had gathered last year for what we hope will become an annual affair. Exhibitor booths filled the main hall and sponsors shared a wealth of information on topics ranging from bee culture and wool production to irrigation systems. Having done my stint in the Air Force back in the 1970s and with son Karl a major in the Air National Guard, I couldn’t help but notice the “Vets on the Farm” booth and learned about the Spokane organization’s good work transitioning returning members of the armed forces back into civilian life through opportunities in farming and ranching. And since a discount was available to vets for their bright red flag-embossed hats, I just had to pick one up.

Brother Don Scheuerman and I had been invited to participate on Saturday by book-ending the day’s activities with a morning session devoted to “Growing Heritage and Landrace Grains,” and closing out the program with a final session titled “Soil Biome and Gut Biome: The Restorative Powers of Heritage Grains.” Because it was snowing to beat the band by 4:00 p.m. and getting dark, I wasn’t expecting much of a crowd so was pleased to find standing-room only. Our morning session covered basic information on terminology, agronomy, and marketing of specialty grains. We pointed out that “heritage” and “heirloom” have become a kind of catch-all word for “old,” but that the USDA uses the term to mean any variety that was raised before the 1950s. Since grain hybridization was introduced in the late 1800s, that means many hybridized varieties would be considered heritage by that definition. (In the book Harvest Heritage: Agricultural Origins and Heirloom Crops of the Pacific Northwest [WSU Press, 2013] I coauthored with Alex McGregor, we describe the contributions of legendary plant geneticist William Spillman who essentially founded the science of plant hybridization at WSC/WSU in the 1890s.) 

Landrace varieties, however, are what I sometimes call “Grain as God Intended,” since they are pre-hybridized plants that adapted to particular locales by the thousands throughout most of Eurasia before coming to the New World in the 16th century Age of Discovery. Our work these past several years with Palouse Heritage Mercantile & Grain Mill involves the cultivation, milling, and marketing exclusively of landrace grains like Sonoran Gold, Crimson Turkey, Purple Egyptian, and Yellow Breton.

Legendary Spokane Baker-Chef Shaun Thompson-Duffy and his Culture Bread Treasures

Legendary Spokane Baker-Chef Shaun Thompson-Duffy and his Culture Bread Treasures


The Farm & Food Expo program included presentations by a host of other folks dedicated to local and sustainable food production including our good Spokane friends Joel Williamson, maltster at Palouse Pint (“Rebirth of the Local Malthouse”); Teddy Benson of Palouse Heritage / Grain Shed Brewing (“Brewing with Heritage Grains”); and Shaun Thompson-Duffy of Culture Breads (Old World Breads: From Millstone to Hearth”). Don and I attended all three of these sessions and were reminded why we have long been so impressed by these fellows. The very names of their topics indicate the stirring sea change that is underway in culinary circles across the country, and Joel, Teddy, and Shaun have joined with other prime movers in the region to establish viable connections with local growers of grains and other crops who are interested in stewardship of the land, rural economic renewal, and human health and heritage. 

In our closing session on restorative biomes to improve health and soil, we shared information gleaned from studies in the United States and Europe on heritage grain nutrition. Worth noting are summaries comparing primitive “pre-wheats” like emmer and spelt, landrace varieties like we grow at Palouse Heritage, and modern hybrids. This is a big topic, so stay tuned for the next post!

The Purple Egyptian Barley Project

Beer and bread. Two staples of history's menu. It is said that agriculture was founded just for the making of these two nutritious vittles. Every corner of the planet had their own ways of doing things, their own flavor profiles. From technique to weather to soil composition, everything that distinguished a given region or artisan from another imparted specific flavor profiles. That is the art and science and terroir. Think of it as "territorial flavors."

Here at Palouse Heritage, we specialize in raising landrace grains (landrace grains being original natural varieties that have been planted and cultivated in such a way that they have naturally and fully adapted to local geography). Enter Purple Egyptian Barley. This is an ancient grain used extensively in the greater Egyptian area thousands of years ago. It was brought to the Inland Northwest and it has since fully adapted to life here, expressing Northwest terroir as a true landrace grain. Palouse Pint, Spokane's only malting facility, has malted a portion of this incredible grain.

From left to right:  the baker (Shaun of Culture Breads), the malter (Joel of Palouse Pint), and the farmer (our own Don Scheuerman)

From left to right:  the baker (Shaun of Culture Breads), the malter (Joel of Palouse Pint), and the farmer (our own Don Scheuerman)

As a joint effort between Palouse Heritage, maltster Joel of Palouse Pint, Shaun of Culture Breads, and Tom of Bellwether Brewery, together we bring you Spokane's introduction to this NW landrace Purple Egyptian Barley.

The brewer (Tom of Bellwether Brewery)

The brewer (Tom of Bellwether Brewery)

Every Thursday beginning February 23 through the first week of April, we will bring you a new small batch of a Purple Egyptian variety Bellwether beer and Culture Breads bread. If you come every week there are prizes in store, including a commemorative pint glass and the chance to vote for your favorite beer of the series. The winning beer will be brewed at full capacity and released during Craft Beer Week in May.

Break bread and raise a glass with us each Thursday for the next 7 weeks. Location is Bellwether Brewery at 2019 N Monroe St, Spokane, WA.

Meet the farmer (our own Don Scheuerman), the maltster, the brewer, and the baker. Learn why landrace grains are so important to local economy and how it brings the best terroir to your plate and pint. Hope you can make it.