“It's not enough to just be ‘local': our estate malt needed to surpass all malt in quality, uniqueness, and flavor"
The practice of malting grain for its use in beer and spirits reaches back into ancient history, and is a tradition bound to America’s identity. Did you know that Samuel Adams worked in his family’s malthouse, not as a brewer?
Some of the world's most sought-after malt is still produced the same way Sam Adams would have crafted his centuries ago. Commonly referred to as “floor-malt,” grain is soaked in water for up to 48 hours and spread over a cement floor to an even depth of 4-8”. The grain is turned by hand every 12-16 hours so that the heat generated from the growing barley does not kill the grain. After the main shoot, or acrospire, has grown the length of the grain, the entire batch is dried in a kiln and then roasted to stop the grain from growing, dry the grain, and to develop flavors and color. Think about eating a plain piece of bread compared to one that has been toasted for just the right amount of time and you will have a fairly good picture of the kilning process.
Floor-malting is considered the pinnacle of “artisinal” malting...however, there are very few sources for this type of premium malt. Even if you happen to find malt that has been floor-malted, inconsistencies can occur from batch to batch.
By combining the old world approach to floor-malting with today's modern technology, we have designed a malting system capable of producing the most unique and flavorful malts available today. We call this proprietary process: “Mechanical Floor-Malting.”
Our Mechanical Floor-Malters are capable of producing 12 tons of finished malt using shallow grain bed depths of 12-16 inches...similar to traditional floor-malting operations.
Virtually all commercial malt is produced in grain beds that can reach 8 feet deep...or even deeper. This grain is never completely turned over. Think also of the tremendous use of energy to force cold and hot air through a deep (and often stagnant) grain bed.
A kernel of malt from the top of this bed will be a completely different product from one on the bottom. This is called “stratification."
What you are really buying is a blended malt.
Our Mechanical Floor-Malter is a continuously moving circuit of grain inside a closed system. The Malter is not a giant Saladin box or another deep-loaded drum, but a one-of-a-kind machine dreamt up by Seth and Brad Klann. Each step of the malting process takes place within this system, which makes our machine a "uni-malter." Our Floor Malters are the largest uni-malters operating in the world.
Continuous movement and shallow grain beds equal reduced energy consumption and more consistent malt. Our goal is to have every single kernel be the same product as opposed to a blend; which is one of the reasons why our malts are so complex and bursting with flavor.
Speaking of resource-efficiency: our malter design uses a series of sprayers to continuously steep the grain to it's required 45% moisture. Nearly all other malting operations steep their grain by submerging it in huge water tanks. This same water is drained and refilled several more times.
Our moving steep process wets the grain only as needed to virtually eliminate water waste. The drained water that does flow through the grainbed exits the malthouse and is recollected in a series of settling ponds on our farm. This water is then used to irrigate our crops, and the settled material is scooped out in the Fall to be re-incorporated with our soil.
Water has a tremendous impact on the flavor of beer, spirits, and even more so on malt. Our local source of water, Opal Springs, is an underground aquifer located outside Culver, Oregon. It has been described as a literal ocean of ancient water, and has only been recently dated to around to an age of "older than 10,000 years old." It is considered one of the finest drinking waters in the world. It comes from the ground at a constant 40-45° F and requires nearly no filtration. This is the same artisanal water that is supplied continuously, and efficiently, into our steeping grain.