The last few weeks have been an exciting time at the malt house. In addition to our expansion announcement, we’ve been working with our network of farmers and researchers to coordinate this year’s harvest. Several key regions received torrential rains, making harvest challenging. A few farmers were able to harvest and gently dry the grain in the bins to preserve germination…. others dodged storm clouds to cut the crop at the appropriate moisture. We are now waiting patiently for our samples of 2-row and 6-row barley to arrive for testing!

I also took part in not one, but two field days last week. The first, hosted by Virginia Tech’s Small Grains program in Blacksburg, included a tour of their pilot brewing and malting facility. Virginia Tech will now have the ability to test malt and brew beer under one roof, giving them the ability to explore the terrior of regionally-grown barley!

A view of the pilot malting and brewing facility at Virginia Tech.

We spent the afternoon touring plots of Violetta and Calypso at Sinkland Farms in Christiansburg. These new 2-row varieties have shown tremendous potential in variety trials across the region. Data from these trials show increases in kernel plumpness and disease resistance compared to other 2-row varieties. Yields were also comparable to Thoroughbred!

Calypso (left) and Violetta (right)

My second stop was at the N.C. State’s Mountain Horticultural Crop Research Station in Mills River, N.C. Dr. David Marshall, from USDA-ARS, and Angela Post from Agricultural Extension discussed this year’s study design, which included a mixture of public and privately developed varieties along which were managed with different chemical treatments. After harvest, data from this station will be compared with other stations from across the state to determine which varieties will advance toward a public release.

Angela Post preparing for a combine demonstration (top). Violetta barley ready for harvest (bottom left). Dr. Marshall addresses the crop of brewers and farmers (bottom right).

We’ll be test malting several of these new 2-row varieties over the next few months. Our efforts will focus on flavor development and malt quality parameters for both brewing and distilling applications. Stay tuned for more information on the new era of southern grown malting barley!

Thanks to following people for making these field days a reality!
Dr. Dan Brann
Brian Wiersema
Wade Thomason
Dr. Carl Griffey
Dr. Wynse Brooks
Dr. David Marshall
Angela Post
Molly Hamilton