Tag Archive for: Craft Malt Converts


Durham, North Carolina-based Fullsteam Brewery is a long-standing partner of ours. Years ago, they were one of the first craft breweries to go all-in on our mission by switching to Riverbend as a primary base malt provider. Utilizing local ingredients falls in line with their Southern Beer Economy ethos and dedication to sourcing within North Carolina as much as possible. 

“We were proud to support Riverbend before expansion, back when they had that tiny little malting setup,” says Jon Simpson, Fullsteam’s Head Brewer and self-proclaimed local malt advocate. “The quality has gotten infinitely better in 12 years, and we’re proud of our commitment to them— and to buying local.” 

As Fullsteam grew into two locations and distribution across the Carolinas, we’ve been delighted to support their continued choice to purchase Riverbend malt– and not just base malt either. Most recently Fullsteam has made the switch from commodity to Cumberland Corn in their flagship Paycheck Pilsner recipe. 

“Sure, craft malt is a little more expensive,” Simpson continues. “But it’s not cheap anymore to ship directly from European malthouses either. The cost-benefit of buying big domestic malt is disintegrating. And especially with the story we’re trying to tell, Riverbend malt just makes sense.” 

Fullsteam is telling the next chapter of that story with a custom base malt blended specifically for them, aptly named Plow To Pint Pilsner malt after their company slogan. It’s a blend of Violetta 2-row barley (motivated by Simpson’s love for Chesapeake Pilsner malt made from this varietal) and the brand new Avalon 2-row barley, both grown this year at Bay’s Best Feed in Heathsville, Virginia. Simpson describes this new blend as the best of Violetta’s floral and Avalon’s honey and bready notes.  He and his team engaged in every step of this custom malt process– including visiting the malthouse on raking day to do some of the labor themselves

The first beer to utilize Plow To Pint in the recipe is the second rendition of the “Oops” series, in which Simpson and crew “pick a cool hop and roll with it.” Oops! We [Nelsoned] Again is a crisp Pilsner made with Plow To Pint Pilsner malt, Nelson Sauvin™ hops from Yakima Valley, and Lallemand NovaLager™ yeast. Flavors include NZ Sauv Blanc-like tropical fruit, catty funk, and grapefruit pith. “It’s almost a SMaSH beer with a couple bags of Great Chit for head retention and mouthfeel,” Simpson says. 

There’s much more to come from the Oops series, and Simpson has exciting plans for future recipes incorporating Plow To Pint Pilsner malt. Meet Fullsteam’s beers and learn more about their company mission to craft distinctly Southern beer that celebrates the farm and food traditions of the American South at fullsteam.ag

“As I’ve said,” Simpson reiterates. “Local malt is my jam. I want to tell everyone why it matters!” 

Hillman Beer

Hillman Beer Company

If we had a nickel for every conversation we had with small batch producers about why craft malt is the sustainable, marketable choice for ingredient purchasing… well let’s just say we’d have a lot of nickels.

Enter a hot steep demonstration that we’ve fondly coined the “craft malt pepsi challenge” in which we compare the flavor profile of Riverbend malt to that of larger commodity brands. The contrast is stark.

A couple weeks back, we engaged in this hot steep juxtaposition with long-time Riverbend customer Hillman Beer Company who we’re pleased to report just made the switch to Riverbend as its primary base malt provider. Hillman has always had around 15 percent of the beers on their board made with our malts, and it’s an honor to say that number has jumped to around 85 percent. 

“We love having Riverbend as neighbors,” says Co-Founder Brad Hillman. “We love that we can say all the malt is grown within 500 miles from Asheville. For customers, it’s cool to know that your beer is grown locally. It’s also cool to know you’re supporting local farmers. There are so many different things to be proud of here.” 


In April of this year, Hillman joined the Craft Malt Certified seal, a pledge to purchase ten percent or more craft malt as part of total annual malt purchases. That was a no-brainer for Hillman, who is already using Riverbend’s Chesapeake Pilsner for their Kölsch and Old Fort Original Lager, and pretty much any other beer that requires Pilsner malt,” Brad adds. He uses Riverbend’s Southern Select as a “nice in-between base malt between Pilsner and Marris Otter,” and Streaker Oats make their appearance in many of Hillman’s Belgian-inspired and sour beers.

Next up for Hillman is an Amber Rye Lager made with Riverbend’s Carolina Rye malt and Munich Rye malt varieties, releasing in mid-December. 

“The proof’s in the beer,” Brad says. “Their malt is just great.”