News-Info-Late Night Ramblings
More information coming soon.
We are busy growing high quality Montana grains, building our malting machine, and working on ideas like:
- We are currently growing up heritage barley from small samples and will be evaluating them for new flavors.
- Researching roasters to make specialty malts.
- Experimenting with malting recipes and processes to make new interesting malts.
- Malting non-traditional grains like triticale, durum, and purple barley.....or maybe even garbanzo beans (will try that one on a really small scale).
- Crazy ideas like making the beer recipe in the field. What would it taste like if wheat and barley seed were mixed, planted, harvested, malted, and brewed all together. Might be a disaster but it will sure be fun to try.
Give us a call if you to have a crazy idea. We will try anything that just might make a new and amazing craft beverage.
Update on last rambling.
Got a logo. We think is it cool. It's our drum. Health inspection went great. Malt names are nailed down. No merch yet but a logo makes that doable. The machine has been flawless, but lots of improvements needed to make things more efficient. The needed fixes are in my head. Just need time to get them out. Welder time is fun time. Web page seems good for an amature (me). If you are a badass web page guru and will work for malt give me a call ;). Bags... F the bags. Dang there are way too many options and I can't figure out the artwork layout. But the most important, the malt is coming out awesome. Beer time.
We are getting so close to startup. Fear sets in. Doubt sets in. What to name the malt. What bags to use. Logos. Merchandise. Health inspection. What won't work on the machine. Need to update the web page. Almost time to start seeding. Failure is not an option. I need a beer. Plus here is a cool photo I took from on top a bin while we finished cleaning it out. I feel so bad for this barley as it is headed to AB.
Yippy, we are in the 406 Hops news. The interview was much longer then the article so here is it for your reading pleasure---Ryan
Where did you grew up? I am familiar with and where Power, MT is but some readers will not be.
I grew up in the small farming community of Power, Montana which is about 25 miles north of Great Falls.
Farming background/ Family
Both sets of great grandparents on my father's side were German immigrants and homesteaders. One side came to the Power area in 1915 and the other in 1937. We have been blessed to farm in beautiful North Central Montana ever since. Through sheer determination and hard work they clawed their way out of abject poverty, fulfilling the dream of a more comfortable life for themselves and their descendants. Starting on that foundation I now get to follow a dream of being involved in craft beer and craft spirits.
I am tremendously fortunate to have the invaluable education of growing up as a farm kid in a small town. After that I received an engineering degree from MSU.
You are a homebrewer, right? Write a little about when and why you started brewing, what you like to brew and favorite ingredients- like your own malt.
For eight years after university I mostly worked in Kalispell as an engineer in the semiconductor industry. That wonderful experience allowed me to meet people from around the world and even live in Scotland for a year. About 2002 a British friend/co-worker (Hi Mark) made fun of the cheap domestic beer I offered him and turned me onto “proper” beer. From then on I have been obsessed with craft beer and homebrewing.
I frankly like to brew everything as every beer has a time and a place where it fits in perfectly. A refreshing cream ale after a long hot day on the farm, a hoppy flavorful beers at a BBQ or camping, a rich stout to accompany a nice steak dinner, a rare sour to share with friends at a special event. Beer is a life enricher.
Sorry, I got sidetracked. My homebrewing took a typical path from buckets and repurposed pots to building all types of equipment like keggles and keezors. Eventually I got interested in the idea of true homemade beer. A buddy and I planted 75 hops plants and I put in some barley right next to my house. I then set to build some small scale malting equipment from a keg and an old stainless sink. That fall I made a few beers from which the ingredients were all grown within a few hundred yards of my home brewery. Like most homebrewers, the idea of owning a craft brewery is alway in the back of your head. But after learning to make malt, my fascination quickly shifted. The process of malting is frankly just as rewarding as brewing and I already have the grain.
When/how did the idea of fabricating your Malting system begin?
While researching for my homebrew scale malting system I came across many types of large scale malting systems and how they have evolved. Drum malters were common at one time but they couldn’t keep up with the throughput need in today's large scale malthouses. This bothers me because it seems the ideal system has been tossed aside for efficiency. This is the beauty of craft, as value isn’t alway defined by what is the cheapest.
I guess I could have tried to buy a malting system, but we have an unspoken motto on the farm... why buy when you can build it yourself. Plus I want to develop some new ideas that aren’t available in purchased systems.
Brief overview of the Malting procedure- From planting to final packaging.
Wow this is a big topic. I love getting into the details of farming and malting and how ours will differ from the big guys, but I am afraid a full explanation would fill up this entire paper. I’ll try to give a brief overview. If anyone wants the full explanation and is willing to listen to me ramble for a few hours, I’ll buy them a beer.
There is a reason two of the biggest breweries in the world have grain elevators within a few miles of our farm. We are fortunate to live in the perfect location to raise barley. On a small scale we will be able to take the best of the best barley and convert it into malt.
Generally malting is done to develop the enzymes a brewer/distiller needs to convert the grain’s starch into sugar. This is done by steeping the grain in water until it is about 45% moisture, letting it germinate, then drying it down in a kiln. This process tricks the kernel into getting ready to fuel plant growth, but instead the brewer/distiller gets to use that fuel (sugar) to make beer/spirits.
Malting is a very resource intensive process but we have designed our system to be very water conscious and environmentally friendly. Let me just say we will use spray steep, our drum rotation, and air exchangers to create a quality malt with a low environmental impact.
What is your next step?
I estimate we are about 75% complete with the malthouse buildout plus there are many other final details to work through like the health inspection and our packaging. We aren’t close enough yet to set an opening date, but I can now see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Are you looking into the idea of partnering for Investment dollars, marketing, distribution and/or other?
We want to keep this on the farm and in the family so not really looking for investment. But it is away great to connect and partner with good knowledgeable people. We are open to all ideas that will make great malt and elevate the craft community. With some luck we hope to be successful enough to be able to hire some people down the road. If malting and farming interests anyone please look me up.
Add anything you wish?
We feel barley variety and its contribution to flavor hasn’t really been explored. Plus, most barley grown today is bred to be used in adjunct beer and isn’t ideal for all malt craft beer. We have a number of side projects in the works like reviving old barley varieties and growing craft specific barley. Not sure what the final outcome will be of these ideas, but we will have fun getting there. Frankly, small scale malting makes many new ideas possible. We could make custom malt to a brewer's or distiller's specifications. We could malt grain raised by a brewery/distillery to give them the true local flavor. We could malt new grains or even malt different grains together and build the beer/spirit recipe in the malt house. Brewers are a creative bunch and I look forward to hearing their ideas.