The story of our 614 (Six Fourteen) Belgian Farmhouse Ale collaboration with Taylor Guitars begins deep in the heart of the Skagit Valley, located in the NW corner of Washington. An environmentally forward-thinking community known for its production of sustainable maple and world class malt, this Pacific Northwest hub is where San Diego’s Taylor Guitars planted the seeds for their 600 Series of maple wood guitars.
The site of a future maple tree grove in the Skagit Valley
“With exotic woods at risk from forest depletion, maple is important to music’s future. Maple grows in well managed North American forests where the infrastructure exists to sustain its supply. Taylor is committed to making it a tonewood staple and building maple guitars that players love.”
Taylor has been building world class guitars in San Diego for 42 years and we’ve been brewing world class beer for 27, so it’s safe to say we’ve been big fans of each other for some time. The mutual admiration we share for each other’s craft stirred a desire to collaborate, but it took some time to land on an inspired idea.
When we learned of their 600 series and the focus on maple wood, as well as the fact that Skagit Valley also happens to be home to Skagit Valley Malting, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to visit our neighbors to the north and collaborate with Taylor on a release that blends elements of our different world’s into a single glass.
Steve McMinn educates us on the bracing techniques used in building 600 series Taylor Guitars
Taylor has been working with Steve McMinn, one of the guitar industry’s leading wood suppliers, to give figured maple a sustainable future in Skagit Valley. While maple has an established heritage as a tonewood for instrument backs and sides, outside the musical instrument market it has little value compared to other hardwood species that grow in the Pacific Northwest. Bob Taylor says that McMinn’s pursuit of growing maple and the investments he has made in developing an eco-friendly sourcing paradigm for the future aligns perfectly with his own vision for developing more sustainable forestry practices in North America. McMinn’s envelope-pushing work, he says, is yet another example of the symbiotic relationship between Taylor and its wood suppliers.
”Although maple is an ideal tonewood, in past decades it has been undersung. Many luthiers and consumers have been drawn to tropical woods like rosewoods and mahogany. Now, though, as those woods become harder to obtain, luthiers are rediscovering — and loving — maple.”
The Skagit Valley happens to be home to one of the largest and most diverse agricultural and environmentally conscious communities on Earth. Known for its fertile soil and micro-climate, the region is home to Skagit Valley Malting, whose eco-conscious approach embodies the region’s philosophy by working with local farming communities to grow unique grains and introduce new or long-forgotten flavors to the craft beer industry. We returned home inspired and got together in the brew house with Taylor to dial in a recipe that showcased the maple wood alongside the uniquely malted barley being produced in the valley.
The result? “614”—named for the rich, warm guitar whose distinct sound helped establish the Taylor acoustic style — is a Farmhouse Ale with lively aromas and flavors of lemon zest, Belgian spice, and toasted notes from the addition of torrefied Maple wood & Alba base malt sourced directly from Skagit Valley & Skagit Valley Malting, respectively. The parallels between the beer and the guitars are found in their unique voice, as Farmhouse Ale’s are known for their lively, dynamic, and effervescent character, also a stand out feature of the 600 series guitars.
3/11 Bottle Release Celebration Details
Both Karl Strauss and Taylor Guitars are proud supporters of the San Diego Music Awards and we’re coming together to kickoff the awards celebration by releasing “614” alongside a lineup of Music Award nominee’s and Taylor artists at our Tasting Room & Beer Garden in Pacific Beach on Saturday March 11th from 3p-8p.
Nearly 2 years in the making, this beer represents the hard work, creativity and talent of both our brewing team and our friends over at Taylor Guitars, and we can’t wait to share it with you, cheers!