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North American Craft Maltsters Guild

Craft Malt – A Revival of Local Ingredients and Traditional Methods

The drive behind craft malt comes from the desire to have local-to-regional agriculture supply local-to-regional brewers/distillers, and to do so in a transparent fashion. It is a natural extension of the local foods movement, and in many ways an evolution of the craft beer and distilled spirits movement itself.

To foster the growth of the craft malt industry through education, advocacy, and honest relationships intended to produce local malt of the highest quality.

Ten years ago, the “all local” pint was impossible. Now, interest in local sourcing is creeping into everything we eat and drink. The development of the craft malt industry is a natural extension of this movement. Our members pledge to seek out the highest quality ingredients from farmers in their region and produce exceptional malts for the brewing and distilling industries. We define “regionally sourced” as utilizing raw materials from a 500-mile radius. This definition supports the development of a local food system for craft malt, while allowing for flexibility in years of poor harvest conditions.

Some of the benefits that can be offered from doing business with craft maltsters include: Small batch, superior quality, experimentation potential, customer service, and custom-order potential, particularly for smaller malt buyers. Craft malt operations also look to differentiate themselves by pushing the flavor envelope using uncommon kilning and roasting processes.

Craft maltsters are utilizing traditional methods, such as floor-malting, and more modern mechanized systems to produce their products. The diversity in production methods combined with the utilization of heirloom and regionally adapted grain varieties offers an exciting opportunity to explore the terroir of North America.

The guild is committed to educating our members on the value of product testing in every phase of the process. This commitment stresses issues such as vomitoxin analysis on all raw grain samples and full malting analysis for finished products. Assessing grain from the field to the mash tun ensures that our industry builds a solid foundation for safe, high-quality products throughout the nation.

The craft malting industry has developed strong ties to research institutions in both the United States and Canada. These groups orchestrate variety trial programs across the two countries, which are designed to develop the next generation of high-yielding, disease-resistant grains. As craft malting’s influence has expanded, these programs are also selecting for superior flavor and other malting characteristics.