The idea for South Fork Malthouse originally came from selling strawberries from our family farm to Country Boy Brewing. Whether it was a Strawberry Wild Ale, a Strawberry Saison, or a Strawberry Gose, I realized that the success of these beers had a lot to do with the high quality fresh strawberries, the consumer support of locally sourced ingredients, and clearly the skills of the brewers that made it! With that in mind I began to think of other ingredients that could be locally sourced and stumbled across the fact that the only other ingredient that brewers and distillers couldn't get locally was malted grain. Malted barley in particular, is by volume (excluding water) the main ingredient in beer and key ingredient in bourbon.
A little history about the malting industry helps to explain how we got to where we are today with grain that's often grown and malted many states away, or imported from different countries. Before prohibition many small towns with a brewery or distillery had a local malthouse and local farmers to supply their grain. With prohibition decimating local breweries and distilleries it naturally followed that the supply chain of small malthouses and locally grown grain also collapsed. The malthouses that emerged from prohibition consolidated over time and now resemble the big beer industry with a handful of large corporations controlling more than 95% of the malt market. At South Fork Malthouse we are working with Kentucky farmers to rebuild the local grain supply chain so that breweries, distilleries, and ultimately customers can explore the unique flavors of local malt one small batch at a time!
South Fork Malthouse sources all our grain from local Kentucky farmers within a 250 mile radius of the malthouse.
Farming can be rewarding, tough, and a little risky! At South Fork Malthouse we pay a premium price for the malt quality grain we receive because we believe farmers should be fairly compensated for the risk, hard work, and high quality grain they consistently provide us. Consider this, when you support us, your customers get the opportunity to support three local businesses [Your Brewery/Distillery+South Fork Malthouse+Local Farmers]. The farms we source our grain from and breweries and distilleries we sell to are all a short drive away, with less time in transit and miles traveled our malt is delivered fresh with a low environmental/carbon impact.
Walnut Grove Farms - Is a family farm based in the community of Schochoh, KY (Logan County), 50 miles north of Nashville, TN. The farm is currently managed by the 5th and 6th generation of the Halcomb family. We are proud to partner with Walnut Grove Farms because we know family farms take pride in the crops they produce and they take care of the land they work.
Caseland Farms - Is the Case family farm located in Cynthiana, KY (Harrison County). Our family has a long tradition of farming that traces back (at least) eight generations. My dad (Russell "Butch" Case) believes in being a good steward of the land, takes pride in his work, he loves farming, and has done so for over 50 years. When I'm not in the malthouse you can find me on the farm working alongside him (and if I'm lucky sometimes I'm able to steal him away from the farm to help bag malt).
MEET THE MALTSTER
RUSSELL "R.T." CASE
Owner & Maltster
My initial training in malting started with reading every book on the subject I could find, along with some rudimentary home experiments. When I realized that malting was more than a hobby, I decided to get formal training and flew to Winnipeg, Canada to take a malting course at the Canadian Malting Barley Technical Center. I later followed-up that training with a course in Advanced Craft Malt Technology though Hartwick College. As a member of the Craft Malt Guild, I continue my education through videos, webinars, and attending the annual craft malt conference.