Riverbend Malt House 2022 Harvest Report

The Riverbend Malt House 11 Year Harvest is cut, and we’re pleased to report that we have a tremendous amount of high-quality, locally-sourced barley to offer our customers on a consistent basis.

Here’s Our 2022 Harvest Report.


Crop Conditions 

While the spring started off cooler than normal, temperatures rose quickly throughout May and into June. Some isolated areas reported mild drought conditions due to below average rainfall during the same period. Growing degree days, a measurement of the amount of growth and development that can take place at a given temperature, increased by 10% over 2021 levels.  

Thankfully, we didn’t have to endure a lengthy rain event in late May or early June. In years past, these events have lingered for three to four days and brought several inches of rain. This combination can be disastrous for grain quality, lowering test weight and triggering pre-harvest sprout damage. 


Avalon 2-Row Barley Is Here.

The major headline from 2022’s harvest is undoubtedly the success of the new Avalon variety from Virginia Tech. This variety has been painstakingly developed over the last ten years and this summer marks the very first commercial harvest. We’ll be pulling in a limited amount of this variety as we wait patiently for additional seed stock to be grown. This year’s crop was marked by strong test weights of over 50 pounds per bushel and plump, bright kernels. 

Initial trials in the malt house have yielded exciting results, with those plumps kernels contributing to a rich, milky sweet wort. Thus far we’ve experimented with Pilsner, Pale, and Vienna recipes. Brewing and distilling trials are happening now, and the first beers made with Avalon 2-row barley will hit the taps soon. 

Read more about the Avalon variety in the Craft Maltsters Guild Field To Bench series, and our Combining Efforts blog. 

Meet A Few Of Our Farmers.

The connections between Riverbend and our farm partners is stronger than ever. We were fortunate enough to visit several of them in 2022. 

The first of our 2022 barley yield was harvested at ASR Grain Co. in Shelby, North Carolina. We got to see it with our own eyes right before it came out of the ground back in May during our farm tour. Several fields of 2-row Calypso with low protein and high germination levels from ASR will become a key part of every batch of our Southern Select and Base Camp varieties. 

We also got to visit Bay’s Best Feed in Heathsville, Virginia (pictured above) to see Violeta and Avalon 2-row barley days before cutting this spring— and it looked incredible. It was an honor to stand on Avalon Lane on Billy Dawson’s farm. We’re beyond excited about the opportunities that this varietal will yield. 

Teeter Farm & Seed Co. in Clarksville, Tennessee successfully grew Calypso and Avalon 2-row varieties for us over the 2021-22 crop year. This farm is located in one of Tennessee’s grain growing hubs just north of Nashville, an area of the state that consistently produces high-quality wheat and barley. Above average test weights and kernel sizes were observed in both varieties. The Calypso barley will be utilized in our Cumberland Pilsners, part of our single origin Pilsner series. Stay tuned for more information on the Avalon. 

2022 marked our ninth successful harvest with Carter Farms in Eagle Springs, North Carolina. True to form, this year’s crop of Abruzzi rye crop looked beautiful. Strong test weight, low DON, and solid protein levels. We got a chance to see the crop right before harvest, standing tall in the spring sunshine.

Pro tip: keep an eye out for Carter Farms’ u-pick strawberries announcements on Facebook. This part of NC gets some of the earliest berries every year. 

Lastly, we visited Long Vue Farms in Allensville, Kentucky from which we received some beautiful soft red winter wheat, with strong test weights and plump kernels— perfect for the upcoming batches of Appalachian Wheat. 

We believe that building these types of relationships is essential to creating a local food system for craft beer and spirits. We’ll take this opportunity to express our sincere gratitude for their commitment to sustainable practices that make for quality malt– and eventually value added beverages. 

Learn even more about the growers in Riverbend’s network here.