By Aaron Brussat Hello, dear beer reader! Well, this is a far cry from my first editorial gig, when I created a satiri-cal pamphlet, wrote and wrangled high school humor, finagled photocopies in a clandestine northern Virginia office, and distributed the janky literature to my classmates in suburban Maryland. I’m proud to say I ruffled feathers. As un-serious that endeavor was, it still ranks as my first public writing. Now, with a better grasp of word processors and a tad more journalistic integrity (and a few more beers), I have the honor to present not only my work, but to showcase that of my fellow writers who dedicate part of their lives to transmit-ting beer news from our beloved Pacific Northwest. It’s an honor and a challenge, and I thank Abram Goldman-Armstrong for the opportunity to edit a newspaper of record (on real paper, no less!), and Mitch “Bockmeister” Scheele for recom-mending me to the Willamette Valley post in 2013. But enough about me! Chances are good you have a cold one close by, perhaps at one of your favorite water-ing holes; or maybe you’re on the road enjoying some local flavor. As I write this, I’m headed north on Oregon Highway 99, stopped at Block 15’s Taproom for a pint of Board Shorts, a corgi-colored, summery pale ale with passionfruit and guava; perfect for a hot, dry day. Speaking of “dry” (a state we don’t often speak of here), one of our newest writers, Will Thompson, has the floor next with a rundown of high desert breweries in our region. Though less saturated than our urban centers, the wide open spaces to the east provide farmland for the essential ingredients: barley and hops. * add $2 fo r 2XL and $3 for 3X L As a natural extension of the artisan world of craft beer, craft maltsters have been growing their acreage and brands over the past several years. The science behind barley breeding and processing is nascent compared to that of other staple grains, but the product is already far dif-ferent than the output of much larger malting companies. Smaller maltsters like Gold Rush, Mainstem, Mecca Grade, and Skagit Valley are gaining traction with Northwest commercial brewers and homebrewers alike; nationally, craft malteries are pushing the boundaries of flavor in beer. Other seeds, such as quinoa, millet, and sunflower seeds, are seeing the kiln as well, offering a broader palate with which to compose a beer. With more options comes the opportunity for education for producers, consumers, and the craft beer-drinking community as a whole. Rural breweries are opening regularly these days, many in areas recovering from economic hardship. A new brewery in a small town can be a bellwether, a sign of new growth. A local pub provides a meeting place for the community where new ideas are inspired and connections are made. And, if you’re just passing through, they are often the best sources of information (so long as you tip well). Whether you’re headed for the Path of Totality spanning Oregon’s midsection, or beating the eclipse traffic with a hasty escape, these remote Dryside breweries have plenty of great beer to offer. Those of you who are BC-bound will want to note Joe Wiebe’s interview with Julia Hanlon of Steamworks Brewing. And if you’re getting way out of town, Bill Howell gets his hands on the story behind Haines Brewing. Whatever your trajectory this summer, drinking sea-sonally is de rigeur during the warmer months, and Geoff Kaiser has put together a tasting panel with some of the PN-dub’s summer releases. This seems to be a year of notable anniversaries, especially for good beer bars. In Portland, Bailey’s Taproom is cel-ebrating ten successful years downtown, and Belmont Station is notching its 20th. In Seattle, Latona Pub has them all beat, with 30 years of getting under its patrons’ belts. The taps of these beer bars tell more tales than the regulars, even after a few. The history of our region’s craft beer is written not only by the brewers, but by the publicans who took the first steps toward introducing variety to the swilling masses. Cheers!