Read Part 1 of this 2022 harvest series here

After a multi-year hiatus driven by the pandemic and site flooding, I’m pleased to report that malting barley field days have returned to the Mountain Horticultural Research Station in Mills River, North Carolina.

This year, participants were treated to presentations from Dr. Angela Post, Dr. Kristin Hicks, and Dr. Ryan Heiniger. Dr. Hicks and Post covered the preliminary results of their five-year study on nitrogen management for malting barley quality and yield. Their findings point to the importance of soil type and crop precedence in the rotation schedule.


The conversation around corn management was particularly interesting. Early on we advised growers to avoid following corn with malting barley to avoid disease and fungal pressure that is typically found in the corn stubble that remains in the field following harvest. Preliminary results suggest that disease pressure is no longer a major concern, and that following corn could actually save money in fertilizer usage. This occurs as a result of the increased residual nitrogen remaining in the soil following the intensive management of the summer’s corn crop.

This data also supported lower overall usage rates of fertilizer to achieve proper protein levels and high test weight grain. This is excellent news given the current prices for these amendments.

Dr. Heiniger covered the results of the Official Variety Trial (OVT) program that is orchestrated across the state. OVT assists both public and private breeders by testing new varieties across a wide geographic range using a standardized methodology. This approach allows researchers to study newly developed varieties, such as Avalon 2-row barley from Virginia Tech, against more established varieties like Calypso and Violetta.

Also of note was the performance of the super plump 6-row variety called Hirondella. We’ve been watching this variety closely as it continues to be a class leader in yield and overall crop quality.

Conditions are shaping up for another strong harvest this summer. Stay tuned for more news and notes from the field!

-Brent Manning

As the temperatures warm and the barley starts to dry down, I know it is time for a gathering in the fields. Annual field days offer the perfect opportunity for researchers to share their latest work with an audience of interested growers and maltsters. A few weeks ago, we met at the Eastern Virginia Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Warsaw, VA for just such an occasion: Virginia Small Grains Field Day I’m always impressed by the size and scope of the work conducted here— more than 200 acres devoted to a mix of malting barley and red winter wheat research.


In true barley geek fashion, I was super excited to learn more about the release of Avalon, the first 2-row malting barley to be “born and bred in the South”. 

I still remember our first meeting with Dr. Carl Griffey and Wynse Brooks from Virginia Tech back in the early days of Riverbend Malt House. We had a lively discussion about malting barley in the Southeast, which was basically non-existent in 2012. We asked about the potential for a 2-row winter barley variety that could match specifications from the more traditional growing regions. We also pitched them on the dramatic growth of the craft beer industry, which was growing at double digit rates back then.

They offered a window into their work, helping us to understand the process of crossing different varieties (aka germplasm) with the goal of improving yield, disease resistance, and a host of other factors. Combine that variety development work with nutrient and fungal management studies and you have a robust program perfectly suited to support the craft malting industry

But wait… there was a catch. They politely told us we’d have to wait up to 10 years for a 2-row malting variety to make it to production. I remember thinking What? I have to wait? I just told them how fast the industry is growing! 

Flash forward to 2022, and the first commercial harvest of Avalon is here! Check out this Virginia Tech article about how the Extension Center is leading an effort to establish Southwest Virginia as a top producer of malting-quality barley to boost the state’s craft beer industry.


What can we expect from this variety, you ask?

Early pilot malting revealed some beautiful flavors. Notes of rich fruit, freshly baked cake, and honeysuckle were all detected at a fairly low SRM. Commercial-scale runs will give us an even better idea of the flavor options available to us as either a Pale Ale or Vienna-style malt.

I’m happy to report that Avalon also shines in the analytical department. We have seen consistently high extracts, low beta glucan levels, and strong enzyme performance.

This release is a fitting crescendo to the long and successful careers of both Dr. Griffey and Brooks, both who have announced their retirement plans. The craft malting community of the Southeast owes much to their efforts and wish them well in the years ahead!

— Brent Manning

Supply Chain

As the Russian invasion of Ukraine continues, one thing is clear… the global supply chain as we know it is crumbling. Russia and Ukraine are among the largest global producers of wheat, threatening countries around the globe with severe near term shortages as a result of sanctions and port blockades.

Following market prices for wheat only captures one small portion of the unfolding drama. Market prices have a cap that manages the rise in global price per bushel, much like our stock market can only fall so far per day. Rapidly rising costs for inputs such as fertilizer and herbicide further exacerbate the volatility seen in the market. Meanwhile, sharply higher fuel prices mean that the cost of transporting grain has risen significantly.

Before diving in, let’s lay some groundwork.
  1. Prior to the February 24th invasion, Ukraine and Russia produced about one quarter of the world’s export wheat (and a similar amount of the world’s barley).
  2. Ukraine grows and exports a significant amount of winter wheat which is harvested in June, as does Russia. Time is an issue.
  3. Russia has suspended exports of wheat to the EU until August 2022 and exports of wheat from Ukraine by ship through the Black Sea are being blocked.
  4. Differences in railroad gauges and other infrastructure issues severely impede volume exports of grain by land from Ukraine to the rest of Europe.
What does this mean for the North American grain market?

Time will tell. If harvest is disrupted in Ukraine, global prices will continue to climb steadily. This will present an opportunity for U.S. growers to plant more spring wheat in May, potentially displacing and reducing acreage of malting barley. Simply put, malting barley prices will be forced to mirror wheat prices or lose out on acreage.

Our friends at Root Shoot Malting are paying attention to these price increases, too. Get even more resources in their latest Field Notes.

What does that mean for the grain market in the Southeast?

While typically isolated, Southeastern grain growers will be able to access international markets as a result of supply chain disruptions. If strong wheat prices persist, growers will also shift acreage away from malting barley as we approach the October planting window. This will drive up contract pricing for malting barley bushels, which could trigger higher malt prices in 2023.

Where do we go from here?

Times like these are when we rely on our long-term relationships with our suppliers. Paying premium prices during periods of market stability builds trust. That trust translates into an honest and open dialog during periods of instability. Crop inputs, diesel fuel, and labor all enter the conversation as we work together to arrive at a fair price for a bushel of grain. Our mission has always been to pull growers out of the “hamster wheel” of geopolitical events, and this approach always bears fruit.

Stay tuned here on our blog for more industry news, and a field report about the 2022 harvest.


Chesapeake Pilsner Malt
Produced using 2-Row barley sourced from Virginia, Chesapeake Pilsner was another malt— like Cumberland Pilsner— created out of our custom craft malt program. It gives a nicely balanced mix of bread crumb and honeysuckle, and is just a touch sweeter than our original 6-row Pilsner. Chesapeake Pilsner’s light color allows for inclusion across a wide range of styles and creates a subtly unique flavor. 

Chesapeake Pilsner is a favorite among our customers, and a 2022 Malt Cup winner in the Pilsen category. Taste it all over the Southeast in these beers, and beyond.  

Hampline Brewing Company Memphis Natch Lager – Memphis, Tennessee 

This lager is named after the legendary bear Natchez, the first animal who lived in the Memphis Zoo. “In 1904, Colonel Robert Galloway started raising funds to shelter the bear who (trigger warning) had been chained to a tree in Overton Park,” says Hemline Brewing about their Memphis Natch Lager, made with our award-winning Chesapeake Pilsner Malt, Saaz and Huell Melon Hops, and Bohemian Pilsner yeast. “Galloway used his own money supplemented by the Parks Commission to form the zoo in 1906 and house Natch along with several other abandoned wild animals. Memphis Zoo is now consistently named one of the top zoos in the country. Rest in Power, Natch.” 

Big Lick Brewing Company Smith Mountain Lager  – Roanoke, Virginia

A classic American Lager that is light and easy drinking, Smith Mountain has a clean, honey-forward sweetness from Chesapeake Pilsner malt with a touch of floral and very light pear notes from the use of Contessa hops. 

Mason Jar Lager Co. Pull Tab Pilsner – Fuquay-Varina, North Carolina 

This clean Pilsner is made with 100 percent Chesapeake Pilsner, which sets the stage for an all Simcoe hop bill. Light and refreshing, with just the right amount of hop bitterness. “The Chesapeake Pilsner is such a nice variation on traditional pilsner, instead of straight honey flavors, it brings in an almost floral wild honey flavor,” says Lead Brewer Hannah Parris. 

Beech Mountain Brewery Lager – Beech Mountain, North Carolina 

After a visit to the malt house and a blind taste test last year, Beech Mountain Brewery switched this beer’s base to Chesapeake Pilsner. “We used the same amount of malt, same mash profile, and water chemistry in the brew house along with the same lagering schedule, so this was a good chance to see which beer came out on top,” Beech Mountain says in a blog post. “After a blind taste test that was conducted twice, nearly everyone could taste the difference in the lager with the new malt and all testers preferred it. It has a nice balanced profile of bread crumb and honeysuckle.” 

Elation Brewing Larchmont Lager – Norfolk, Virginia 

Elation Brewing attributes the cracker-y, crisp flavors in their flagship Larchmont Lager, a medium bodied German-style Pilsner, to our Chesapeake Pilsner malt. Their use of traditional Saaz hops in this recipe offers a beautiful bouquet of herbal and floral aromas that carry to the palate along with a hint of spice. 

Perfect Plain Brewing Co. Vienna Lager – Pensacola, Florida

The now two-time U.S. Beer Championship-medal winning Vienna Lager is Perfect Plain’s take on the classic European-style amber lager, made with Chesapeake Pilsner and Base Camp too. 

Plankowner Brewing Seaside Lager – Spartanburg, South Carolina 

Our Chesapeake Pilsner gets the spotlight in this clean, crisp lager made with Noble Hops that layer spicy, floral aroma and flavor to the malt base. Grab it to-go for your summer adventures, in cans that sport the Craft Malt Certified seal! 

Our #Riverbend10 film is live on YouTube!

This film documents a decade of craft malt at Riverbend Malt House. Thanks are in order to our friends at DSSOLVR, Fullsteam, and Fonta Flora Brewery, and the Asheville Brewers Supply homebrew shop who let us crash their work days with our cameras.

Catch this film at our Craft Brewers Conference BrewExpo booth, number 136!

Thanks for watching! 


Happy Women’s History Month!

Thank you to the many women who incorporated Riverbend craft malt into their recipes in celebration. It was exciting to see Riverbend go into so many Pink Boots Collaboration Brew Day brews across the Southeast. Here are a few beers to track down, made in support of Pink Boots Society.

Have You Hurd? 

We also had our friends from the newly formed Athens Pink Boots Society chapter to select flavors in a custom batch of malt that we made them for their Pink Boots brew, naming their new beer after their first female brewer and current Brewing Supervisor, Jess Hurd. “Have you Hurd?” is a SMaSH (Single Malt and Single Hop) IPA. They tell the story better than we do– check out their artfully articulated blog post about the whole process.

Enter Erin Mellenthin, one of our Assistant Maltsters. Erin traveled to Athens for International Women’s Brew Day, and gave a hot steeping demonstration to the whole group to boot. Terrapin really wanted to highlight their women employees in this process, she says. “One of the ways they did that was buying a custom malt from us that honored the states from which each of their women brewers was from.”

Look for Have you Hurd? on tap at Terrapin in April.

Shake The Table

Inspired by not being “well-behaved women,” Shake the Table Fruited Sour Lager is more of a mantra than a beer. Mason Jar Brewing Co. Lead Brewer Hannah Parris says this beer was designed to misbehave, to push the standard definition of a lager. She and the team used Sunset Wheat Malt and Chesapeake Pilsner to create the its complex flavors. “I love being able to brew beer with ingredients that showcase our local agriculture,” she says. “The grains play well with the fruit additions of peach, pink guava, and red prickly pear.  The Sunset Wheat provided a soft, crisp, and lightly sweet template that really lends itself to warm weather refreshers. Finally, we ferment using a Czech lager yeast for an exceptionally clean and dry finish.”

Look for Shake The Table on tap at Mason Jar in coming weeks.

Ninkaski’s Nectar 

Plankowner Brewing brewed an ode to the goddess of fermentation on International Women’s (Brew) Day with pink guava hibiscus and our Southern Select malt variety. Ninkasi’s Nectar IPA will be available in April.

Pink Boots Are Made For Brewin’

Fireforge Crafted Beer created a Hazy IPA with the help of our Streaker Oats for Pink Boots Brew Day this year, for which many women from upstate South Carolina gathered to make it possible. Get it on tap now while supplies last!


Craft malt makes the difference, especially when it comes to beer and spirits competitions. Congratulations are in order to two of our customers for some recent big wins.

Our friends at Crooked Can Brewing in Orlando cleaned up at the Best Florida Beer Championship with five medals. Among the winners was the Common Ground California Common that Crooked Can made to celebrate our 10 Year Harvest. The recipe, which emulates a traditional Steam Beer, includes two of our specialty malts— the 10 Year Harvest Sunset Wheat and the Flo-Rye-Da Florida-grown rye malt– as well as our Dark Munich malt, Amarillo hops, and classic San Francisco Lager yeast. Bready, floral, and spicy notes are balanced with a clean lager finish in this easy drinker.

Congratulations to all of the Florida breweries who took home medals at the Best Florida Beer Championship!

Another of our Southeastern customers was just recognized at another prestigious quality competition across the country. Weldon Mills was honored with the Spirit of the Year, Best Bourbon Whiskey, and Distillery of the Year titles at the 2022 San Diego Wine & Spirits Challenge. We’re proud to say that all of Weldon Mills Bourbons are made with Riverbend craft malt!

Get your Craft Malt User Manual and read Our Year in Review!

Craft Malt User Manual

You’ve made the savvy business decision to use craft malt. Now what?

Working with a craft maltster means making a purchase is only the beginning. Your investment leads to innovative products, supports local, family owned farms, and protects the environment— and those are stories worth telling!

Our new Craft Malt User Manual has tools and resources to help you produce and sell the highest quality beer and spirits made with Riverbend Malt. It includes malthouse tours and employee trainings, media support, event support, and more.

Check out the Riverbend Craft Malt User Manual.

Using 2-Row barley sourced directly from Tennessee, we developed Cumberland Pilsner as part of our custom craft malt program. After numerous tweaks and trials, we were able to create a blend of sweet aromatics and bread dough from Calypso barley. It’s a little less floral than our Chesapeake Pilsner, and a little sweeter than our original 6-Row Pilsner. Cumberland’s light color and subtle flavors work across a wide range of Lager styles.

See what our Southeast brewers have done using Cumberland Pilsner craft malt!


Homegrown Lager – TN

An ode to homegrown brewing, Orange Hat Brewing Company’s Homegrown Lager is everything we love about local craft beer.

Orange Hat brewed this premium lager with Cascade hops from Knox Hops and Riverbend’s Cumberland Pilsner malt. Roughly 75 pounds of fresh Cascade hops were used in the whirlpool to add a distinct hop character to this easy drinking and crisp finishing Lager.


Church Parking Lot – TN

Dedicated to the mundane, everyday places we find ourselves in, Harding House Brewing Company’s Church Parking Lot is a liquid encapsulation of the way special moments make anywhere memorable.

Because of that, this beer is light, crisp, and easy drinking. It features 100 percent Tennessee-grown corn from Teeter Farms and Riverbend Cumberland Pilsner malt. At 4.75 percent ABV, it’s perfect to enjoy with family and friends—and make memories that turn the normal into the extraordinary.


Believe in the Breeze CZECH Pilsner – NC

Crisp and soft as a North Carolina gale, DSSOLVR’s Believe in the Breeze is a subtly floral, velvety smooth beer with a touch of Pilsner bitterness.

This Pilsner starts with a Czech water profile and a base of 100 percent Cumberland Pilsner malt. Then, Believe is hopped with German Saaz hops for an earthy, herbal, and spicy flavor. A traditional Pilsner through and through.


Withered Foliage Biere de Garde – WV

A combination of roasted pepitas, Tettnang, Magnum, Saaz hops, and local malts, this October saison is a seasonal staple crafted by Weathered Ground Brewery

Beginning as a more traditional Saison, Withered Foliage is rich in body and full malt flavor. The integration of our Cumberland Pilsner and a touch of our Streaker Oats in this grain bill create a mosaic of malt flavors. The combination keeps this Saison scintillating till the last sip.