The Craft Maltsters Guild is thrilled to announce the winners of the 2021 Malt Cup, as well as the recipient of the annual Soles of Malt Award. The virtual awards ceremony was broadcasted and streamed live as the finale of the best-attended Craft Malt Conference yet on February 12, for which malt enthusiasts and craft beer lovers tuned in from all over the world. 

2021 was the first time the Guild hosted the conference virtually, and the first year the organization opened up this one-of-a-kind competition to international malthouses. 28 malthouses from seven countries, 17 states, and one province submitted a total of 46 entries. Altogether, this year’s submissions spanned 29 different malt barley varieties.

The 2021 Malt Cup awards evaluation took place in three phases over two months. Malthouses sent samples to Montana State University’s Barley, Malt & Brewing Quality Lab, where researchers conducted quality control analysis to ensure that each entry meets the competing category criteria. The qualifying samples then underwent hot steep sensory evaluation at 17 different judging locations across the United States and Canada. Judges reported sensory data such as aroma, flavor, and aroma via DraughtLab, a sensory software. The DraughtLab team is an ongoing partner in the competition.

In the final round, additional judge panels evaluated the top malts in each category to determine the top winners. Judges examined both the certificate of analysis for each malt and conducted a further hot steep sensory evaluation to make decisions about the world’s best craft malt. In total, 83 judges worked together to determine the following winners: 




Gold Rush Malt was awarded Best of Show and became the first malt house to win two gold medals in a single season. 


The Soles of Malt Award is an award that honors individuals who stand out for their leadership, selflessness, and philanthropic stewardship of craft malt. The award is named in memory of William Soles, co-founder of Grouse Malt House. The recipient of the 2021 Soles of Malt Award is Paul Schwarz, professor of Malting Barley Quality in the Department of Plant Sciences at North Dakota State University in Fargo, ND. 

“Paul has taught many students now employed in the malting, brewing, and food science industries, especially in craft malting about crop diseases, beer gushing, and malt quality analysis,” says  Dave Thomas, Brewer Emeritus at Dostal Alley Brewery. “I have personally witnessed Paul’s uncanny ability to spot the variety, quality, and stage of development or diseases in cereal grain fields from the window of a moving car at 60mph on a backcountry road!”

“Agricultural contributions like Schwarz’s and exceptional final products from Malt Cup winners continue to elevate craft malt as a critical value add for craft brewers and distillers across the globe,” says Jesse Bussard, Guild Executive Director. “In turn, they help to establish the importance of flavor, sustainable supply chains, and engaged communities in the beverage industry and beyond.” 


This year’s virtual format via Crowdcast allowed for 265 total attendees and 30 speakers from six continents, 15 countries, and 36 United States to tap into the most accessible craft malt education in the world. 

The Guild extends congratulations to all of the 2021 winners and gratitude to all speakers, sponsors, and participants. 

To learn more about these prestigious awards programs or the Craft Maltsters Guild, contact Emily Hutto at [email protected]