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The Malt Board: January / February 2017

Farmer Brewer Winter Weekend is Back!


The Craft Maltsters Guild and the Hartwick College Center for Craft Food and Beverage are teaming up this year to host Farmer Brewer Winter Weekend, February 4-5, 2017 at Hartwick College in Oneonta, NY. Now in its 5th year, Farmer Brewer Winter Weekend is an immersive, 2-day experience for established and aspiring farmers, maltsters and brewers to learn from experts on the cutting edge of malt science and research, as well as from each other.

This year’s theme, “Everything in Modification,” will explore how the fundamental elements work together to create flavorful and functional craft malts. Some highlights of the weekend are:

  • Principles and Practices of Floor Malting – Hugh Alexander (Balnamoon Maltings)
  • Craft Malt and the Craft Beer Supply Chain – Chris Swerzey (Brewers Association)
  • Brewing a Taste of Place – John Mallett (Bells Brewery), Tim Matthews (Oskar Blues Brewery), and Ben Roesch (Wormtown Brewery)
  • Deconstructing and Troubleshooting Modification – Patrick Boivin (IFBM)
  • Rye Malting Research – Paul Schwarz (North Dakota State University)
  • Malt Sensory in the Malthouse and Brewery – Cassie Liscomb (Briess Malt) and Lindsay Barr (New Belgium Brewing Company)

CMG members receive a $50 discount off their registration, which includes all lectures, meals, beer tasting receptions, and a 4 course, farm-to-table beer pairing dinner! Registration is limited to 100 participants, and is open until January 13, 2017. For full program details, or to register, please visit the Center for Craft Food and Beverage’s website.

CMG Board Gets Down to Business in Fort Collins

Building a non-profit trade organization can be challenging for all involved. The dreams are big, the goals are lofty…but the time and resources are often scarce. In order to harness and guide these efforts, the board of directors meets on an annual basis for a weekend retreat. This format offers time for lengthier discussions, fun field trips, and camaraderie!


This year, we met in Ft. Collins, Colorado, a location close to several board members and three craft malt houses. The first day was filled with field trips. Our first stop was in Golden, Colorado, where the board was given a tour of the state-of-the-art malthouses at MillerCoors Brewery. Shannon Ambrosio, Golden Malting Manager and Kristen French, Malting Analyst showed the board and Todd Olander of Root Shoot Malting around the four production malthouses (built 1950-1980) which produce 700,000,000 lbs annually, headhouse (80,000,000 lb capacity) and malt lab complete with several auto-analyzers for malt analysis. Shannon and Kristen were very generous with their time and the board was very appreciative!

Next was Dostal Alley Brew Pub in Central City, CO, where Dave Thomas (their Brewer Emeritus) graciously showed us around their brewery, letting us sample many of the tasty beverages he produces with Brewmaster Buddy Schmalz, and filling our bellies with pizza! Afterward, we headed to the newly minted Root Shoot Malting in Loveland, where Todd was gracious enough to show us around his 10-ton Kaspar Schulz malting system. The Olander family grows their own grain and are experimenting with several varieties such as Genie and Metcalfe. Our last stop was Troubadour Maltings back in Ft. Collins. Chris showed us around his facility and discussed his kilning techniques which draw heavily on his coffee roasting experience. We also had a chance to sample a few beers made with his malt from the Horse and Dragon Brewing Company.

board-retreatSaturday morning we all met at a beautiful old home in downtown Ft. Collins to begin our planning session. The board reviewed the results of the recent membership survey and used it as a guide to shape our agenda for the upcoming year. We set ambitious goals centered on expanding membership services through website content improvements, forum management, and academic research.

Long-range development discussions took place later in the day. The board discussed lobbying efforts, development of an awards program, and the expansion of our annual meeting and conference schedule. We also developed a plan to ensure that the guild continues to prosper as the founding members transition off the board in the coming years.

The annual retreat was a success and we are looking forward to seeing the continued growth of our industry in 2017!

Oh, Canada!

If you’ve been monitoring the CMG’s social media feeds over the last couple of months, you may have noticed an interesting trend – growing membership amongst Canadian maltsters. As the North American Craft Maltsters Guild, we are often thinking about how we can better involve maltsters outside of the United States; so, we reached out to a few of our friendly neighbors to the north, in the hopes that we might get to know them better!

Devin and Leslie Huffman

Devin and Leslie Huffman

Devin and Leslie Huffman met while working in tree planting camps in Northern and Western Canada. After several years working in the mining and forestry industries, the two decided to quit the contract & shift work lifestyle, and return to the farm in Ontario that had belonged to Devin’s grandparents. “We wanted a farm-based business that would stand alone, and wouldn’t leave us splitting our time between the farm and a ‘town job,’” says Devin. “We played around with a few different ideas and had started investigating the idea of a craft brewery when we realized this hole in the supply chain: all these local breweries, but nowhere to source local grains.”

In 2014 Devin and Leslie started Barn Owl Malt, which went into production in early 2016. “We operate a floor-malt house, a decision we had made early on as much for reasons of equipment availability and technical barriers as anything,” says Devin. “We’ve since developed a passion for the traditional production method.” But as with most malt houses, Barn Owl faced challenges in the beginning. There was no precedent for what they built, locally or provincially, so permits and signatures were slow to come. “Every step we had to write, negotiate and re-write. Fortunately, our local municipality, department of agriculture, and economic development committees were all extremely supportive of the project.”


Alan Stewart of Horton Ridge Malt & Grain Company

Alan Stewart, of Horton Ridge Malt & Grain Company, has felt similar support for his project, particularly among local brewers, who step up even when things don’t go as planned. “We had a kiln malfunction yielding a malt I called Kilnus Interruptus,” Alan explains, “Boxing Rock Brewing noticed it in our malt house and became intrigued enough to make a very nice beer from it.” As the only malthouse currently operating in Nova Scotia, they provide a locally malted product in an environment where all malt is imported from outside the province.

Horton Ridge concentrates mainly on organic base malts, and one of the main challenges they face is supply. “There is very little malting barley grown in my region,” says Alan, but he is looking to change that. “I have been working with organic grain farmers in Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, and since we have a fairly well developed organic agricultural scene, I am confident that we will be self-sufficient within 5 years.” It helps that Alan is a farmer himself. “I stumbled on the world of craft malting back in 2014 as a potential way to bring increased value to grains that I grow on my 100 acre organic farm in Nova Scotia,” he explains. “Nova Scotia is a small province of Canada, but our craft brewing scene is exploding… I see malting as a way to participate in this boom.”

Mike with grower Andreas Pfenning

Mike with grower Andreas Pfenning

Mike Driscoll, of Harvest Hop and Malt, similarly hopped into craft malt as a way to participate in the growth of the craft beverage industry. After a long career in business and technical consulting, Mike wanted something to call his own. “Discussions in 2004 with a colleague active in the alcohol business had us conclude that local ingredients supply was the next logical evolution of the exploding craft brewing sector.” He began his journey in 2007, planting hops and barley on rented land at a nearby organic farm, but month before barley harvest, Ontario’s only malting facility closed. So, in 2014, he opened a malthouse, becoming Ontario’s first craft maltster. While local hops has been a slam dunk, malt has been a somewhat harder sell for his local breweries. “While they’re quite happy to throw in anything from dandelion root to roasted pumpkin, substituting local malt has been challenging,” Mike muses, but he has found success with those who share his values. “My customers are the rebels, having sought out local ingredients to fulfill their mission of making truly local beer and spirits.”

Mike isn’t stopping with just a malt house. He’s using his background in engineering to design malthouse equipment. “In collaboration with ABCO Industries of Nova Scotia, we are launching the Harvest Uni-Malter,” he explains. “The system will be a… low cost operation for those wishing to start malting. The base design will fit through an 8 foot by 8 foot garage door, [and] use household power and water.”

As a parting question, we asked each of these gentleman if they had any words of wisdom for maltsters getting started in the industry. Devin emphasized the importance of building relationships built on quality and trust. “Seeing our malts used in special recipes, seasonal recipes etc. is great… but building the relationships where brewers are incorporating our malts into their day to day brewing has been key to stabilizing production schedules and cash flow.” Alan outlined the importance of foresight and planning, recommending that aspiring maltsters not “take too much for granted;” however, “certainly it would seem that there is lots of opportunity if you are in an area where there are plenty of brewers and distillers, or have an excellent source of malting grains.” Mike emphasized concentration on the craft -“Be a hands on maltster-“ he says, “learn the nature of the grain; the smells, the tastes and the textures at each step.”

3rd Annual Great Lakes Hops and Barley Conference

By Ashley McFarland.

hopsconference-4The Great Lakes Hop and Barley Conference, now in its third year, has become the premier craft ingredient event of the year, showcasing both national and international speakers.  The 2017 conference will be held March 2-3 at the Westin Book Cadillac Hotel in Detroit, MI.  Register now to secure your seat in one of three conference tracks; barley and malt, hop introductory, hop advanced.

Each year the conference has hosted over 300 attendees representing the Great Lakes region and beyond.  Participants engage with farmers, processors, and end users at the conference tradeshow, the craft beer networking social, and hosted tours.   John Mallett, author of Malt:  A Practical Guide from Field to Brewhouse, will be the featured keynote.  The barley and malt track features a robust agenda addressing quality barley and malt production.

Some of the highlighted speakers are:

  • Damon Scott (Brewers Association) providing an overview of the craft beer raw material supply sector
  • Richard Horsley (North Dakota State University) addressing advanced malting barley agronomy
  • Kenneth Hellevang (North Dakota State University) providing guidance on quality handling, storage, and pest control in malting barley
  • Andrea and Christian Stanley (Valley Malt) sharing their expertise as the first artisan malthouse on the east coast – highlighting their experiences in scaling up their operation, lessons learned in the malthouse, and words of wisdom for start-up operations
  • Experienced Hop Panel; Pam Miller (Hopyards of Kent), Sean Trowbridge (Top Hops), and Dan Wiesen (Empire Hops) – discussing the challenges they faced entering the craft supply market nearly a decade ago, and lessons learned that can be passed on to aspiring maltsters
  • Steve Berthel (New Holland Brewing Co.) – preaching the gospel of locally-sourced craft ingredients

Do not miss this opportunity to engage with experts from the craft supply community at this high quality event while getting the chance to enjoy beautiful downtown Detroit!

To register for the 2017 Great Lakes Hop and Barley Conference, visit this site:  Sponsorship and limited vendor opportunities are also available!

Member Corner

  • A MARKETING SURVEY FOR MALTSTERS! Do you wish you could have more time to dedicate to marketing and business planning? Take this 3-question survey to tell us more about your priorities for 2017. Your answers will be compiled and used as a guidepost for upcoming webinar topics. The survey will close January 20th.  Individual results will be kept anonymous.
  • Upcoming Events:
    • Hartwick College Advanced Craft Malting Course: January 30 – February 3, 2017, Oneonta, NY. Hartwick College and IFBM are partnering to offer a one week intensive class in craft malting technology. Join Aaron Macleod and Patrick Boivin for a course aimed to give both starting and experienced craft maltsters theoretical and practical knowledge in malting technology.
    • Farmer Brewer Winter Weekend: February 4 – 5, 2017, Oneonta, NY. The CMG is teaming up with the Center for Craft Food and Beverage at Hartwick College to bring you an immersive experience for established and aspiring farmers, maltsters and brewers to learn from industry experts as well as each other.
    • Craft Brewer’s Conference: April 10-13, 2017, Washington, DC. Not only will our annual meeting be held in conjunction with the CBC, but also the CMG will be exhibiting! Stay tuned for ways that you can be involved, and don’t forget to stop by booth 5604!
  • Join the Guild! If you are a current or aspiring, Craft Maltster, a brewery or distillery that wants to secure local malt for your production, a farmer, or a fan of craft food and drink, join the Guild today.