Don Tse enjoying the cold beers at Admiral Malting's conference reception.

Each year, the Craft Maltsters Guild casts a wide net and invites stakeholders of all varieties and backgrounds to apply for scholarships, with the goal of lowering barriers to attending the upcoming Craft Malt Conference. Each scholarship includes a 1-year membership to the Guild, and either virtual registration to Malt Con or an in-person registration with a $1000 stipend for travel. 6 outstanding individuals were selected for MaltCon2024, including Don Tse of Calgary, Alberta, Canada who is a freelance beer writer with an affinity for all things craft malting. 


Written By Don Tse:

Germinating Interest in Craft Malt

I’m not actually a maltster, so for me to understand malting, the learning curve has been … steep.

Attending the Craft Maltsters Conference in-person has been a dream of mine since I first attended it virtually in 2020. I am a beer industry writer and, living in Alberta, North America’s Barley Belt, I write about malt a lot. I’d write about it more, if I could.

When I was in school, I was a nerd (I still am). The jocks had all the fun. Got invited to parties. Drove cool cars. Walked around in their letter jackets like they owned the world.

But I wasn’t envious. I liked being a nerd. My teammates on the math team and in the chess club were more authentic and I always felt comfortable among them.

In the beer world, hop people are the jocks. But just like in high school, when who was popular changed on a monthly basis, hop jocks go from bragging about alpha acids and IBUs, to oils and humulone, to thiols and terpenes. Below he shares a few thoughts from his attendance of MaltCon 2024. 

Oh look! It’s Cascade!

No wait! There’s Amarillo!

Oh. My. God! Look at Mosaic!

Meanwhile, the malt nerds are hard at work on real issues. In case you haven’t noticed, malt is the biggest flavor ingredient in beer (with all due respect to water). You can make beer without those hop jocks. But where would beer be without the malt nerds? Literally nowhere.

I like hops (even Sabro), but I’ve always identified better with the malt nerds. We’re not flashy. We don’t brag. We get important stuff done.

Malt nerds agonizeagonise over steep temperature in winter, and relative humidity in summer so brewers can have the privilege of not fully appreciating how much science, knowledge and magic goes into the grain they receive in bulk and mindlessly mill into the mash.

So … back to the Craft Maltsters Conference. I love malt and I want brewers and beer lovers to appreciate everything barley farmers and maltsters do. Revenge of the Nerds!

For me, attending the Craft Maltsters Conference in person exceeded all expectations. There is something different about sitting in the audience looking up at a giant projector screen rather than just looking at the 13-inch screen of my laptop. I was literally immersed in malt culture (you could even say I was steeped in it).

And then there were the breaks. Yes, of course the sessions are valuable. But having casual conversations with my fellow nerds about new winter barley varieties, or as-yet unpublished research into malted rice, well … this malt nerd was in heaven.

But it’s not all fun and games. Barley is a business. Malting is a business. And while I thought I knew about malt, my biggest takeaway from Craft Maltsters Conference is that I don’t know anything. I’m writing about the Pythagorean Formula while maltsters are proving Fermat’s Last Theorem. There is so much I don’t know. There is so much the WORLD needs to know.

The Craft Maltsters Conference is here to tell that story. And I’m here to help.

Thank you, to the Craft Maltsters Guild for teaching me how little I know. This nerd is excited to learn more.