Jake Silva – Brewing Artist

Jake Silva was introduced to art at a young age by his grandmother, an artist.  “Drawing and painting have always interested me, so my grandmother would show me tips on how to paint, and she expressed interest in my art,” said Jake. He has also taken several art classes in college to improve his skills.  Jake uses his creative talents in brewing beer as well.

Jake, Skagit Farm to Pint, and Skagit PUD unite water conservation, breweries, and art to raise funds for the non-profit Viva Farms.

Craft Brewing Program

When Jake was finishing up a degree at Skagit Valley College, his adviser Sally Dixon, asked if he was interested in learning how to make beer. “I’ve always wanted to own a bar and restaurant one day, so why not learn to make beer,” said Jake. Part of the Craft Brewing Academy requirements is to intern at a brewery.  Jake picked Skagit River Brewery.  After completing the Craft Brewing Program, Jake was determined to work for Skagit River brewery as an assistant.  But as it turned out, Jake was faced with an opportunity to be the head brewer. “I was a bit shaky at first but excited,” said Jake. Then the pandemic hit.  Skagit River Brewery closed, and Jake learned some new skills at La Conner Brewery.  When Skagit River Brewery re-opened, Jake was invited back to rebuild the entire line-up of beers.  “Being the former brewer at Skagit River Brewery, I was excited to bring back some classic beers and new styles,” said Jake.

Approach to Brewing

Jake gravitates toward American Ale styles, but he is broadening his skill set with European style ales. Jake’s approach is hands-on when it comes to brewing day…and working hard preparing all week beforehand. “I am very meticulous during my brewing process, and if I am making the same beer again, I repeat the process perfectly,” says Jake.  And that doesn’t mean Jake isn’t afraid to adjust a recipe if it needs improvement.  “I always want to try new things and different styles to broaden my range,” said Jake.  Brewing is the most fun part of the job for Jake, but he also loves to create new recipes and practice his skills in creating exciting and fun beers.  Jake attends beer festivals to be inspired by all the different styles of beer other brewers are making.  Consistency is essential in the brewing world.  “I strive to keep my consistency when repeating a beer recipe as closely as possible and make sure everything is clean, so I can prevent any funky flavors from developing,” said Jake.

Art and Beer

Jake’s inspiration for the rain barrel design was Skagit River Brewery, Mount Vernon, and the Skagit Valley. Jake painted the newest version of the Skagit River Brewery logo on one side, but instead of filling the inside with a Valley, Jake decided to draw the Mt Vernon bridge under the daytime and nighttime sky. “I had to throw some tulips in there and put the year our brewery was established,” said Jake.   Jake incorporated the logo into a waterfall and included oars to hold up the Skagit River Brewing banner. “I chose oars because they were in the original Skagit River Brewery logo,” said Jake.

Skagit River Brewery

Founded in 1995, Skagit River Brewery is located in historic downtown Mount Vernon.  Besides having 24 taps and cocktails, Skagit River Brewery is a full-service restaurant with specialties such as smoked pulled pork, brisket, sandwiches, and pizza.  Skagit River Brewery is family-friendly, and your furry friends are welcome on the covered deck.

Jake’s creativity extends to the spent grain as well. “I like to give away my spent grain to a local farmer I know through the La Conner fire department, which he uses to feed his pigs,” said Jake. And what is Jake looking forward to in 2022?  “I’m excited to try the different types of beers I have planned to make this summer, and I’m excited to get into some brew fests this year and see what everyone thinks of our beers.”



Rain Barrel Competition – Farmstrong Brewing

Did you know that beer is 95% water?  Skagit Farm to Pint has united water conservation, breweries, art, and Viva Farms altogether to create the Skagit Farm to Pint Roadshow Rain Barrel Project!  Skagit PUD donated and delivered the rain barrels to the participating breweries before the beginning of the Skagit Farm to Pint Roadshow, artists painted the rain barrels, and Viva Farms will be displaying the rain barrels at the Port of Skagit after the Roadshow ends.

Meet Farmstrong Brewing Artist Laura Childs

Laura Childs has been working at Farmstrong for over a year and volunteered her time to work on the rain barrel and contribute to the non-profit Viva Farms.  Laura is a Studio Art major at Western Washington University with a focus in mixed media arts which means she has a lot of art interests! “I enjoy drawing, painting, collaging, and most recently I have enjoyed spending my time doing ceramics,” says Laura.

Laura drew inspiration from many authentic aspects of Farmstrong Brewing including the Farmstrong chickens (which always manage to escape the coop) and Farmstrong’s famous Truck Shows.  Just last weekend, the Truck Show featured live music during the Skagit Cider Festival which was a fundraiser for Viva Farms.

When owner Todd Owsley asked the team if anyone would be interested in doing the painting, Laura knew this project was meant to be.  “I had so much fun designing and painting the water barrel, and I am super excited to see what the other barrels look like,” says Laura.

Good Beer, it’s in the Water

Beer is 95% water, and here in the Skagit Valley, our breweries have been able to thrive thanks to reliable access to good-tasting, clean water.

“You may assume water is just water,” said Kevin Tate, community relations manager for Skagit Public Utility District, “but the quality of water used in brewing beer will make a big difference in the final product.”

judy reservoir

Distinct styles of beer require different types of water to create the desired taste and flavoring. The same recipe using another water source can produce a drastically different beer. Brewers need to know what’s exactly in their water because there are so many variables. Hard water, high in calcium and magnesium, can lead to an intensely hoppy flavor, while water with chloride in it is great for those malty porters and stouts.

In other parts of the country, breweries may choose to invest in filtration systems to strip everything out of their water before adding back in desired minerals. However, here in the Skagit Valley, brewers can pull their water straight out of the tap.

gilligan creek rapids

“Skagit PUD maintains a profile that is a good starting point for brewers,” Tate said. “Skagit PUD has relatively soft water, which makes it an excellent base to create certain beers.”

Tate says Skagit PUD regularly communicates to its customers about water quality. Because the source is surface water, seasonal changes can dramatically affect pH and alkalinity and require the PUD to adjust its water treatment process.

“Skagit PUD helps support the Valley’s beer industry by providing area brewers with a chemistry report to look at the water’s exact chemical composition,” Tate said. “It’s a way for brewers to know whether they’re getting a consistent profile. Consistency is one of the biggest things they need.”

To ensure long-term reliability, Skagit PUD is investing $160 million over the next 10 years in infrastructure to aid in efficiency, conservation, and maintaining water quality. The investment is good news for brewers since it takes 3 to 7 gallons of water to brew a single gallon of beer. That’s not including the gallons of water needed to keep equipment clean and sanitary during and after the brewing process.

“Sound infrastructure ensures that we deliver water safely and dependably while saving water by reducing leaks,” Tate explained. “Communities can grow when a public water system has the water resources and infrastructure to deliver a reliable supply of clean, safe water.”

Skagit PUD encourages local breweries also to keep conservation in mind. Keeping track of water usage to see where they can conserve and ensure no accidental water loss due to a rogue leaky valve. It’s all to keep Skagit’s water clean, reliable, and beer-friendly for years to come.

“Great water makes great beer,” Tate said. “We are excited that the brewing industry is growing here in the Valley and that Skagit PUD’s water can play an essential role in its success.”