How do we source our grain?
Are you curious about how we source grain here at Riverbend Malt House?
As the first malt house in the Southeast, we are proud to be a North Carolina company, and we are committed to growing a vibrant grain economy in our local region. How do we define “local”? We consider the Southeast (a roughly 500-mile radius from Asheville) to be our “grainshed”.
We source our grain from this region for three principal reasons:
We place great value on sourcing the highest quality grain available in the region. Year after year, we work with our farm partners to select the best barley and other small grains in the Southeast.
It is vital for our business to work with the best quality grain available to us. We perform rigorous in-house testing and send harvest samples off to a third-party lab at Hartwick College in New York to ensure our raw materials meet our specifications. The Southeast can throw us some curveballs in this area. Some years, we have seen nearly all our contracts meet spec when our farmers avoid storms at harvest. In other years, we have been unable to accept close to half of our contracted amount due to harvest conditions that impacted malting specs. It’s important to us to build a safety net, sourcing from farms throughout the Southeast, to ensure that we have access to high-quality grain despite unpredictable weather and harvest seasons. A big rain event at harvest might lower yield, test weight, or cause pre-harvest sprout. It may also negatively impact many other important specs for malting.
We have also worked with our partners over the years to improve our malting barley stock in our efforts to provide high-quality malt in the styles expected by our customers. While our explorations with two-row varieties go as far back as 2014, it wasn’t until 2018 that we were able to source the volume of high-quality two-row barley needed to add these products to our lineup. It took a few growing seasons of testing out different varieties to discover the ones that are well suited to our climate and can consistently meet our malting-quality specifications.
Our Farm Partners
When we first started out, there was no established market to look to. It was no easy task to find farmers willing to take on the necessary risk involved with growing and supplying malting-quality barley. At first, only a few were willing to make a commitment to us.
Billy Dawson, in the Northern Neck of Virginia, was a pioneer in the production of malting quality grain in the region. He saw an opportunity to work with us and supply high-quality barley, and took on significant risk jumping into this new market with us. Sadly, Billy passed away a few years ago, but we continue to work with his family and business partners at Bay’s Best Feed.
Similarly, we have worked with Billy Carter for several years to source the Wrens Abruzzi Rye we use to make Carolina Rye malt. Billy grows this heritage variety for us as well as for milling companies in the region due to its unique flavor profile and in spite of the low yields and tough growing conditions. We are happy to be able to work with Billy to provide a market for this grain and support his farming operation in Eagle Springs, North Carolina.
We value the relationships we have built over the last ten years and hope to continue growing alongside our partners who have been with us from the start. We can’t thank our farm partners enough for everything they have done to help us produce the high-quality malt we are known for today.
Our network of partners now includes farms in North Carolina, Virginia, Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, and South Carolina. We look forward to maintaining these relationships in the years ahead.
You! Our Brewing and Distilling Customers
We take our responsibility to serve our customers seriously. Sourcing from a variety of sub-regions in the Southeast helps us to ensure we can meet your needs, providing high-quality malt year after year. It also allows us to meet customer demand for grain grown within the borders of the state you brew or distill in.
If you’re looking for a product sourced from your state, get in touch with us! And, of course, if you’re looking for high-quality malt from the Southeast, we definitely have you covered. We’re here to help and we love working with you on your new and exciting projects!