Local Flavor

Working with local farmers ensures we represent the terroir of the Southeastern region.

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Supporting Local Farmers

Riverbend works with an ever expanding network of family owned growers within North Carolina, Georgia, Kentucky, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.  We have worked with some of our farmer partners for over a decade.  We have great respect for what they do, in part because Riverbend’s founders come from North Carolina farming families.

Our goal is to source 100% of our raw materials from within a 500-mile radius of the malt house.

Each year we select the highest quality grains from this network as the first step in creating local, artisanal malts.  We pay premium prices to support our family farms, and in return they provide us with some of the best grain available anywhere in the world.  You can’t make great malt without great grain.

Our commitment to local farmers helps to provide these producers with a more stable outlet for their products. By negotiating prices and terms before the growing season even begins, we secure access to raw materials for the coming year and offer the farmer peace of mind.

We believe that building these types of relationships is essential to creating a local food system for craft beer and spirits.

We invite farmers interested in joining our network to contact us directly to learn more about our requirements. The small grains we purchase meet specific criteria for protein content, size, disease, moisture, and germination rates.

Let’s Work Together

Are you a local grain producer? Send us a message to discuss how we can work together.

Southern Flavor


A majority of today’s craft breweries utilize malt made from 2-row barley, which are referred to as “Spring” varieties, and are typically grown in the Midwest and Northwest regions of the U.S. between May and October. In contrast, the Southeast produces 6-row and 2-row “Winter” varieties, which are typically planted in October and harvested in June.

2-row varieties are prized for their uniform, plump kernels and moderate protein levels.  6-row varieties, which provide unique, desirable flavor profiles, may have higher levels of protein, slightly smaller kernel size, and elevated levels of diastatic power. However, modern agricultural breeding programs and organic farming practices have mitigated these shortcomings over the past 3 decades.  Today, maltsters sourcing grain from the Southeast are able to provide high quality 6-row and 2-row malt for brewers and distiller’s malt to the local brewing community.  Riverbend is proud to offer both 2-row and 6-row barley malts, and several single-origin 2-row varieties to boot.

Local + National Partnerships

Since the beginning of our development, we have reached out to groups such as the USDA Agricultural Research Service and NC State Agricultural Extension Service, who conduct a majority of the research on small grains within our state.

Dr. David Marshall, research leader of the USDA/ARS laboratory in Raleigh, has conducted plant breeding trials for both barley and wheat for several decades. His work in this field focuses on developing high-yielding, disease-resistant varieties. Through our partnership with Dr. Marshall and his staff, we are developing malting quality  2-row barleys that perform well throughout the Southeast.

Dr. Carl Griffey, Professor of Crop Genetics, at Virginia Tech is also working to create new and exciting 2-row barleys for the craft malting industry. He and his team manage a network of trial sites across Virginia that are designed to gauge the impact of different fertility and pest management strategies. The results from these trials translate into increased yield and higher quality harvests from our local farming network.

Quality Testing

Third-party testing plays an essential in delivering consistent, quality malt for distillers and brewers. We partner with Hartwick College and Montana State University to provide data on both our raw material supply as well as our finished products. We uphold strict standards regarding protein, germination, moisture, and fungal growth when selecting our raw materials. Each lot is tested in-house and at one of these institutions. A full malt analysis is conducted on every batch we produce in the malt house. Specific batch data is available to our customers.