Supporting Local Farmers
Riverbend works with an ever-expanding agricultural network of family-owned farmers 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; in return, they provide us with some of the best grain available anywhere in the world. We believe that great malt starts with 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 begins, we secure access to raw materials for the coming year and offer the farmer peace of mind.
We know 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, and let’s discuss how we can work together!
2-ROW OR 6-ROW?
Most of today’s craft breweries utilize malt made from 2-row barley, referred to as spring varieties. They 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 protein levels, 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 three decades.
Today, we are able to provide high-quality 2-row and 6-row malt for brewers and distillers. Riverbend is proud to offer several single-origin 2-row styles as well.
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.
Third-party testing is 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. When selecting our raw materials, we uphold strict standards regarding protein, germination, moisture, and fungal growth. Each lot is tested in-house and at one of these institutions. A complete malt analysis is conducted on every batch we produce in the malt house. Specific batch data is available to our customers- just ask!