CRAFT by Under My Host® Issue No. 17 Made in America: Part II - Page 85

region and climate will definitely have notable flavor and quality dif- ference, in the same way grape growing impacts wine. However, once quality barley is introduced to a maltster, a whole range of products could be made through a number of techniques at widely different production scales. The first example could be the difference between hand-turned floor-malting, pneumatic malting, drum malting, or large-scale Saladin malting, but the nuances seem endless, not to mention that malting is only the first step of modifying grain, before a brewer continues the effort, combining and extracting multiple malts into beer. “I had a great conversation just this week with a grower and craft malt- ster in Ohio. They got some feedback from one of their brewers about the flavor of their pale malt being different from what they normally get. Assuming what they normally get is a commercial base malt from one of the big malt companies, that grain is higher protein spring two-row. This is in Ohio, however, and they can’t grow the spring grain. It’s not the right climate, so they grow winter-planted grain. It’s much lower protein — of course, it’s going to taste different. Now, is that because it’s Ohio? Well, it’s because of the climate, it’s because of the variety, it’s because of the processing - so these things are inexorably linked together. That’s the value proposition that’s being created. I think there’s a craft malt house in thirty-eight different states right now, where they want to take some- thing local — grow it, process it and brew with it to get an outcome that’s unique, and differentiable in the marketplace.” Alison Babb, started growing barley in 2012 in Empire, MI, creating Empire Malting Company. With a degree in agricultural operations, she is driven by her love for the marriage between art and science in a malthouse. She moved to Northern Michigan inspired by the op- portunities to capture regional flavor. She believes the environmen- tal impact on malt goes beyond the agricultural sense of growing barley. She notes that water and air quality, are also crucial in the malthouse, post-harvest. Empire Malt produces a little more than ten tons of malt a month by hand turning all of the grain, and Babb is very appreciative of how their sense of place is represented in flavor contributions from their natural access to fresh air and pure water. She describes terroir as “equal parts agriculture and maltster.” She also had to adapt their process dramatically to make any malt at all, “The first three years, we didn’t sell much, because the numbers don’t lie, and we know our malt will be compared to malt from anywhere in the world.” © Hundred-to-One LLC 2018. All rights reserved.