The traditions of malting can be traced back to when civilization began. Many of these traditions have been lost making most malt today a faceless and homogenized commodity.
Craft Maltsters are reclaiming the role of the Maltster and resettling malthouses in their communities around the world.
In Neolithic Britain and Switzerland, there is evidence that barley, wheat and rye were being malted. Remnants of spent grain from the brewing process show that the grains used had undergone the chemical changes known to occur during malting. In an ancient barn house dated back to 3500 BC on an Orkney island, unearthed pottery showed remnants of lipids from malted barley. It was almost certain that beer was the inhabitant of this vessel. Other evidence revealed that the spent grains from fermented beverages played a vital role in nourishing both the people and their livestock during the winter months when no fresh food was available.
More recently, workers at an important archeological site in Cyprus called Kissonerga-Skaila found a 2×2 meter mud- plastered dome that served as a malt kiln. This Early Bronze Aged structure would have been important to that culture because beer was an important feature of celebrations used to foster community.
Five thousand years later, beer continues to be an important part of our lives. The recent revolution in Craft Beer has shown how beer does indeed foster community. Craft Maltsters are seeing yet another way to strengthen community by bridging locally grown grain with locally made beer.
In our modern times, community can form across the world through the Internet. Malt, though, isn’t a concept. Malt is a bridge between land and the people who live on it. This sense of place is what Craft Maltsters and Brewers alike are trying to capture for their customers.
Although the art of malting has been brought to its present satisfactory state, like many others, it will no doubt, be improved upon, as philosophers assert that nature is unlimited in her operations; that she has inexhaustible treasures in reserve; that knowledge will always be progressive; and that future generations will continue to make discoveries, of which we have not the slightest idea.
-E.S. White 1859