Craft Malt Is About To Change Craft Beer. Are You Ready?

Discussion in 'Beer News & Releases' started by DIM, Nov 6, 2019.

  1. DIM

    DIM Poo-Bah (2,726) Sep 28, 2006 Pennsylvania

    This is new to me and I am intrigued.
  2. beertunes

    beertunes Poo-Bah (6,420) Sep 24, 2007 Kyrgyzstan

    Well, this place has been in business a few years now, and in addition to working with local regional growers, they've developed new techniques and equipment:
  3. JLaw55

    JLaw55 Meyvn (1,383) Jul 10, 2014 Missouri

    Color me intrigued. If there is as big of a difference in quality and freshness as they say, as well as the ability to tweak your procedure down to the most minute detail, then I for one look forward to this innovation. Anything that allows more customization and more control, can only be a good thing.
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  4. unlikelyspiderperson

    unlikelyspiderperson Meyvn (1,086) Mar 12, 2013 California
    Society Trader

    I love this kind of stuff and I actually think one of the biggest impacts on beer with be the furthering of distinct regional flavors. Most beer grain is grown in the intermountain west and those varieties work well there with little to no moisture during the growing season. But there are brewing grains for just about any environment, it just hasn't been economical to grow and malt many of them. As that changes we will start to see small but useable amounts of distinct and unique varieties of grains from particular areas that have their own flavor contributions that thoughtful brewers will be able to make great use of
  5. nc41

    nc41 Poo-Bah (1,972) Sep 25, 2008 North Carolina

    As a non brewer I’m kinda surprised at how easily malt in taken for granted, and the hops get all the love. Quite the opposite in Scotland where malt is king and worth a small fortune.
  6. Ffenski

    Ffenski Devotee (402) Apr 24, 2008 Ohio

    I'm intrigued also, and I think this is another step in the evolution of beer in today's environment of creativity in this industry. Hop varieties have gone from a few regulars to a wide array giving us many new flavors, it only makes sense that the grains would start to differentiate. I could also see "craft" yeast producers and even "craft" water as ingredients that will set beers apart from each other in the future.
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  7. MNAle

    MNAle Poo-Bah (1,605) Sep 6, 2011 Minnesota

    Hmmm... probably not because of beer, though! :wink:
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  8. unlikelyspiderperson

    unlikelyspiderperson Meyvn (1,086) Mar 12, 2013 California
    Society Trader

    I think the craft yeast already exists, the craft water will probably(and may already be) consultants who help teach breweries how to treat their water to optimize certain styles.

    My personal belief is that the main driver in different beer styles historically was the different flavors produced from the local grain and hop varieties, along with the wild yeast and water profile. I think we're going to see a returning emphasis on this local "terroir" focused ingredient selection going forward
    Squire, sharpski, DIM and 4 others like this.
  9. deadwolfbones

    deadwolfbones Initiate (125) Jun 21, 2014 Oregon

    I've been brewing with Mecca Grade Estate malt from Central Oregon and it's made a definite flavor impact on my beers. The more malt options, the better.
  10. deadwolfbones

    deadwolfbones Initiate (125) Jun 21, 2014 Oregon

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  11. jesskidden

    jesskidden Poo-Bah (1,868) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
    Society Trader

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  12. hopfenunmaltz

    hopfenunmaltz Meyvn (1,470) Jun 8, 2005 Michigan

    Some craft maltsters have come and gone already.

    Mecca Grade in OR, Valley Malt in MA, River Bend in NC have shown some staying power. I know there are many others out there.
  13. BuddyPal

    BuddyPal Initiate (93) Jun 30, 2014 Pennsylvania

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  14. nc41

    nc41 Poo-Bah (1,972) Sep 25, 2008 North Carolina

    Distillers like Laphroaig still process and smoke their malt by hand, they hand rake it. They put a lot of time and love into that bottle, which I appreciate. Most rely on equipment there’s a few that don’t.
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  15. wasatchback

    wasatchback Disciple (328) Jan 12, 2014 Bahamas

    There are lots of breweries in the US using malt from small local maltsters. It’s definitely a financial commitment however as the malt can often times be twice as expensive.
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  16. eppCOS

    eppCOS Meyvn (1,030) Jun 27, 2015 Colorado

    I'd try it.
    IF some of these started to taste or smell like Laphroaig, however, then I'd drink the hell out of them.
    DIM likes this.
  17. davetharave

    davetharave Initiate (105) Apr 6, 2008 California

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  18. davetharave

    davetharave Initiate (105) Apr 6, 2008 California

    Send it over, I'm ready
  19. Domingo

    Domingo Poo-Bah (2,624) Apr 23, 2005 Colorado

    Root Shoot Malting in Loveland CO has taken this area by storm. Tons of breweries are using their stuff and it's super high quality.
    DIM likes this.
  20. mjryan

    mjryan Zealot (512) Dec 22, 2007 Minnesota

    Is most malt really a year old by the time it reaches the brewer?
  21. invertalon

    invertalon Crusader (778) Jan 27, 2009 Ohio
    Society Trader

    The malt I commonly use from Germany (Weyermann) was only a few months old per the batch code on the bag. When on the tour at Weyermann in Bamberg, that malt is shipped out within a week or so if I recall them saying all around the world (granted, if it's coming to the US on boat it may take a few weeks), but I don't see it sitting for a year before use. Sounds exaggerated, to me. I will have to check my Briess sacks to see if there is a date code on them.
  22. TheInsomniac

    TheInsomniac Aspirant (268) Jan 11, 2015 New Mexico

    Ready? It's about dang time. Hops are so 20th century.
    ballardbeer likes this.
  23. officerbill

    officerbill Disciple (378) Feb 9, 2019 New York

    So this would be
    Discretion Brewing - Shimmer Pils
    Standard Deviant Brewing - Kolsch
    Crooked Lane Brewing Co - Oktoberfest (German/Vienna-style Märzen category)

    I've never had any of their beers or, TBH, heard of the breweries. Are they well known in California?
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  24. officerbill

    officerbill Disciple (378) Feb 9, 2019 New York

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  25. ForagedBudLite

    ForagedBudLite Initiate (18) Aug 11, 2019 Michigan

    I love the sours Destihl makes using local wild yeast. Really, Illinois has a lot of cool things going on south of Chicago.

    In my neck of the woods, Michigan State U has done some great work bringing back historic Michigan barley. I know at least one craft brew has made been made with "Spartan barley", though I unfortunately have never had the pleasure of tasting one.

    All of my adventures with yeast and grains have really proven to me that local ingredients and more hands on, time-consuming processing almost always results in a better end product. There seems to be an intrinsic law in the universe that punishes taking shortcuts. I always find it fascinating that a massive factory run by the best engineers can never pump out as good of bread or beer as a single skilled artisan in a small room. In some ways it seems like common sense, but on the other hand I really think it's an incredibly complicated and somewhat mysterious topic.
  26. HouseofWortship

    HouseofWortship Defender (689) May 3, 2016 Illinois

    I'm skeptical and will believe it when I try it.

    Future beer beer labels are headed towards having ALL these as a sign of freshness:
    Bottle date:
    Best by date:
    Malt harvest date:
    Hop harvest date:
  27. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,185) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    I have had a number of locally brewed beers that were brewed using malt from ‘craft’ malting companies. Some examples would be beers from Sly Fox using malt from Double Eagle Malting Co. and beers from Tired Hands using malt from Proximity Malting Co. Those beers were good but nothing stood out to me from the beers’ malt profile perspective; they have not motivated me to use ‘craft’ malt in my homebrewing. There are lots of high quality malts from ‘non-craft’ malting companies. My last purchase was a sack of Weyermann Pilsner Malt that has a best by date of Dec. 2020. Malt if stored properly (cool & dry) will be good for an extended period of time.

  28. jmdrpi

    jmdrpi Poo-Bah (6,367) Dec 11, 2008 Pennsylvania

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  29. thesherrybomber

    thesherrybomber Initiate (148) Jun 13, 2017 California

    Where have craft brewers been sourcing their malt? The same folks behind "big brew"?
  30. jmdrpi

    jmdrpi Poo-Bah (6,367) Dec 11, 2008 Pennsylvania

    well it would need to be a more general term like "Grain harvest dates", since depending on the beer style it may not just be brewed with barley, and it may not be malted. And likely more than one variety.
  31. sharpski

    sharpski Meyvn (1,154) Oct 11, 2010 Oregon
    Society Trader

    Mecca Grade Estate Malt in Madras (about 1hr north of Bend) developed their malts in conjunction with an Oregon State University program, that base malt being called Full Pint. The continuation of that program has led to testing crosses of the Full Pint malt with other varieties (Golden Promise, Maris Otter, etc.); like with hop breeding the process is slow and deliberate, but I'm excited to see what emerges in the next few years.
  32. tzieser

    tzieser Meyvn (1,089) Nov 21, 2006 New Jersey

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  33. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,185) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    OK, I guess I will be 'that guy'...

    There are aspects that need to be clarified in this thread's discussion:


    This is the plant that is grown and developed. For example "Full Pint" as discussed by @sharpski above (I do not intend to single you out here) is a variety of barley. There are many different barley varieties that can be used to produce malted barley; some of those varieties have been around for a while and some are newly developed.


    Malting is a production process where the grain (e.g., barley, wheat, oat,...) is germinated for a period of time and then is kilned. I suppose that most beer consumers think of malted barley when they hear/see the word "malt" but a number of grains could be go through the malting process.


    I suppose there could be terroir effects on where the barley is grown (e.g., Full Pint barley grown in Oregon vs. Montana) but I would suggest the bigger effects is how that barley crop is treated during the malting process. In other words the Full Pint barley that is malted by Malting Company x is likely to be quite different from the product of Malting Company y. Even within the same Malting Company the same barley variety (e.g., Full Pint barley) could result in very differing products (e.g., Pale Malt, Pilsner Malt, etc.).

    I suppose I could summarize by emphasizing that Malt (e.g., malted barley) is more of a production product than it is a crop (e.g., hops).

  34. deadwolfbones

    deadwolfbones Initiate (125) Jun 21, 2014 Oregon

    Yes, mostly. Briess and their ilk for domestic styles, Fawcett/Crisp/etc for British, Weyermann and Best for German, etc etc.
  35. deadwolfbones

    deadwolfbones Initiate (125) Jun 21, 2014 Oregon

    I got to try several beers made with these crosses at the Mecca Grade harvest party in September and the results were really interesting! (And quite distinct.)
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  36. DIM

    DIM Poo-Bah (2,726) Sep 28, 2006 Pennsylvania

    I have not heard of them. I have been largely out of touch with the local beer scene since I started having kids. And truthfully, I just never thought much about where malts come from.
    #36 DIM, Nov 6, 2019
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2019
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  37. SFACRKnight

    SFACRKnight Meyvn (1,356) Jan 20, 2012 Colorado

    These guys have been around a few years now. I haven't used their malts personally, but have had beers made with them and they seem pretty tasty.
    tzieser likes this.
  38. jkrich

    jkrich Meyvn (1,215) Nov 1, 2001 Florida

    You can never go wrong with a company that is able to supply fresh malt. I have to wonder how this will affect the price of a six-pack as this "craft" malt will be more expensive as the larger malt producers can scale the cost. I would certainly invite the opportunity to try a "micro" malt in a beer to see if there is such a difference to justify the probable price increase.
    DIM likes this.
  39. unlikelyspiderperson

    unlikelyspiderperson Meyvn (1,086) Mar 12, 2013 California
    Society Trader

    While there might be some quality improvements with this trend (it seems that there are many bigger malters who make very high quality stuff already though) I think the bigger impact will be in making other varieties of barley as well as other grains available that have different characteristics that allow them to present different flavors and other characteristics to a beer. It's not as if the brewers are all scrambling to find some decent malt these days but these smaller, regional concerns will likely be able to find unique varieties of grain that will offer different flavors than are currently available from the big players.
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  40. jesskidden

    jesskidden Poo-Bah (1,868) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
    Society Trader

    But malt is not harvested, barley is. Most "malting barley" (i.e., barley types grown for malting, not for livestock feed) in the US is harvested in the fall (just like North American hops for that matter), though there has been breeding research on creating a winter malting barley, which would be a spring harvest. I imagine maltsters store the barley harvested in the fall and malt it over the following months. I'd think these "craft malt houses" would do the same - otherwise, they'd only be able to malt immediately after harvest and then sit idle 11 months a year?

    As others have noted, the maltster in the OP story's claim of "...malt that’s generally at least a year old by the time you get it” doesn't ring true.