Skagit Valley Malting Maltster Profile
Will DeRemer began working at Skagit Valley Malting in 2012 when the malthouse started developing its own single vessel malting machines. Before SVM Will began his career as an electrician, he was then introduced to machine programming and process control which led him to a career at Advanced H2o in Skagit. Will worked his way up to maintenance manager of the Advanced H2o Burlington plant, while manager he was also the programmer that helped with the start-up integration of 5 more plants throughout the nation. Will’s talents in the field of complex machinery and process control were crucial skills needed in the building of our pilot malting machine at Skagit Valley Malting. Initially, Wills role was to help with the electrical work needed to power the machine and also to develop the programs and machine interfaces (UI) that would unlock the full potential of this technology. Will was drawn to the group of people that had come together to form this young company, “It was a great group of people, a small close-knit community, who were dedicated to the mission of building a malting machine that didn't really exist anywhere and could malt the barley grown in Skagit. I was immediately intrigued by this challenge and was excited to be a part of the process that would give life to these machines”.
Will has lived in Skagit county his entire life, born in Everett and raised in La Conner he was exposed to the agricultural community from before he can remember. As Will became a member of the SVM team it was also an opportunity for him to reconnect with the farming community he had grown up with. “My first job was picking tulip bulbs for John Roozen at 12 years old, it’s been an amazing journey for me to now be working with John as a maltster all these years later”. From working in fields pulling tulips to malting the barley that is used in rotation to help produce healthy tulips year after year truly is an amazing journey.
Once our first single vessel malting machine was brought online Will began to assist SVM’s founder Wayne Carpenter in the malting process. “I have been an avid homebrewer for some 15 years and my interest in brewing beer really inspired me to pursue malting”. Becoming a maltster is an extension of Will love for beer, it was an opportunity for him to further explore the beer making process and be a part of that process that helps others brew beer. Will’s first training came under Wayne Carpenter, who was at the time running the malting operation. Will then trained under and still has a close relationship with Mike Doehnel, a barley grower and craft floor maltster in Victoria, BC, he also had some intensive training under Bruce French, a seasoned veteran maltster. Luckily for Will, there was no shortage of knowledgeable people and seasoned veteran maltster to help him train for his eventual role as a maltster.
Will took over as head maltster at Skagit Valley Malting in 2014 while still maintaining his role on the machine fabrication team. As SVM has grown so has Will’s role, he helped bring three more machines online in the last year and now oversees six malting machines with a monthly production of over 300,000 pounds of malt.
Quick Question and Answer with Will
What are your favorite barley variety and malt?
Talisman is my favorite variety, its ties to Marris Otter and its connection to that history makes it a unique variety to work with. When it comes to malting, Talisman makes great malt, it brews well and has a great flavor that comes from it being winter barley. My favorite style is something between a Pale and Vienna malt, these style push for a full malt flavor allowing you to really taste the grain flavor potential and the malt house signature.
What is Skagit’s Malthouse Flavor?
Skagit’s signature flavor really comes from having a homogeneous product, our malting technology creates a uniform malt flavor that is represented in each and every kernel. Furthermore, we have slightly longer kilning times that gives the grain more opportunity to develop complex and fuller flavors.
What is your favorite beer?
My favorite beer to brew is a Pale ale, this style has a nice balance between the sweetness of European styles and the bitterness of American beer. When that style finds the right balance between a strong backbone of malt flavor, a slight hop aroma, and bitterness it's very enjoyable. For the last 2 years, I have been experimenting with capturing and brewing with wild yeast and bacteria
What barley are you excited for in the 2019 harvest?
This year we are trialing some 20 barley varieties and I'm excited to see the results from the varieties that came from Breun seed company in Germany. We have three different traditional German barley’s and I want to see how the Skagits growing region effects and changes those barley and then, of course, the malt and beer that is produced.