High-quality malt requires high-quality grain! We work with our local farmers to select barley varieties recommended by the American Malting Barley Association that flourish on the farm and in the malthouse.
Although barley is the most prevalent grain malted, wheat, rye, corn and other speciality grains can be malted too!
Before steeping begins, the raw grain needs to be cleaned to remove field debris, broken seeds, and any light or undersized seeds. This promotes uniform growth and water uptake during steeping.
The steeping process takes approximately 2-3 days, alternating between periods with the grain submerged in water and periods without water, called an air rest. These alternating periods allow the grain to hydrate and respire.
The objective of steeping is to clean the barley and activate the resting embryo by providing water and oxygen to initiate germination. Steeping is finished when the target moisture content is obtained and the grain shows signs of "chitting" (early rootlet growth).
The germination process takes 4-6 days and it continues the physiological activity initiated during the steeping process. To promote uniform growth during germination, cool-moist air is circulated through the grain bed.
During the germination process roots will grow from the proximal end of the grain, while just beneath the husk the acrospire (sprout) grows toward the distal end of the grain. Turning the grain every 8-12 hours keeps the grain bed from getting compacted, keeps the rootlets from growing together, and helps dissipate heat.
The objective of germination is to achieve the optimal modification of carbohydrates (starches) while minimizing loss of potential extract from excess growth and respiration. Modification occurs when enzymes released from the embryo, breakdown proteins and starches into simple sugars and other yeast nutrients.
The kilning process is intitated to stop further modification and lock-in the desired level of enzymes and starch reserves developed during germination.
The kilning process can take up to 35 hours depending on the type of malt being made. Time, temperature, moisture, and air flow all contribute to the development of color, flavor, and aroma in the finished malt.
The objective of kilning is to stop germination to preserve enzymes and starch reserves, develop color, flavor, and aroma, and lower moisture to 4-5% to achieve a stable product that can be stored and then milled.
After kilning is complete, the finished malt needs to be cleaned before it is packaged. The roots that grew during germination need to be removed as well as any broken, light, or undersized kernels.
The cleaning process begins with the debearder. The debearder removes the roots and polishes the kernels. The detached roots and kernels then go through a seed cleaner to sort out the roots and small kernels while preserving and sending the highest-quality malt on to be packaged.
Before we receive raw gain at the malthouse a sample from each field is tested at Hartwick College to ensure it meets our strict quality standards.
During the malting process, the maltster records analytical data and relies on their sensory observations to consistently produce high-quality malt.
After each batch, a sample of finished malt is once again tested for quality at Hartwick College. A full malt analysis for each batch is available to our customers.