As the second annual Craft Malt Week winds down, some of our Craft Maltsters Guild board members reflected on the week and why this year’s theme of malt education is vital within the industry. Here’s what they had to say.

Phil Neumann – Co-Founder + CEO of Mainstem Malt

“When we celebrated the first Craft Malt Week in 2020, it coaxed out so many stories about the amazing projects our community is working on. Many of our members are either far too modest or just lacking time to be vocal. So to me, the most important part of this week is to help get those messages out, shouted from the rooftops. Artisans and consumers everywhere have gobs to learn about malt, and I just know they’ll love to learn that a global network of craft maltsters is driving major change in this industry. “

Jeff Malkiewicz – Guild Treasurer and Founder of Great Lakes Malting Co.

“On the topic of malt education, we emphasize to our current and prospective customers the benefit to their business and the environment of shortening their supply chain for brewing ingredients. Malting and brewing are high energy-use industries with a significant carbon footprint. By reducing the distance their ingredients need to travel, we play a role in helping to offset this impact. In addition, our growers engage in regenerative agricultural practices that help to sequester carbon and improve soil conditions. To the end-user, this means a consistent supply of high-quality, sustainably grown grains.”

Curtis Davenport – Guild Secretary, and Co-Founder + Head Maltster at Admiral Maltings

“Beer and whiskey are agricultural products with malt at their soul! One of the joys of being a maltster is to help connect those who make and enjoy malt-based products with the agricultural community at the heart of the industry. I think as folks learn more about the people, places, and processes behind the beer and whiskey they drink, they will value and enjoy these products even more.”

Matt Enns – Owner of Maker’s Malt

“Malt education is important to me because I believe that connecting the beer consumer to their raw ingredients and the supply chain that supports them is important. People are generally uneducated on barley and malting. This is different than in other similar beverage industries like wine and cider, where people understand their raw ingredients, have recent experience with them, and view them as tasty and healthy. I believe the increasing disconnect to barley (we rarely cook with it or see it on the grocery shelves anymore) has played a part of the role in declining (macro) beer sales over time. Barley, and especially malted barley, is delicious and has lots of great nutritional value. Educating the end consumer about barley and the clean scientific processing we do to it during malting, especially the unique artisanal aspects craft maltsters bring to the table, can only serve to benefit our guild members and their supply chains.”

Branch Rothschild – Brewhouse Manager at Allagash Brewing Co.

Craft malt education is important to me because it reconnects the food and drink we consume to the human scale at which it’s grown and produced. Knowing more about craft malt expands people’s appetites for new flavors, both traditional and entirely new.”

Ryan Hamilton – Small Grains Researcher at Michigan State University

“Malt education is essential, not only to gain greater technical understanding of a key material in craft beverages but also to illuminate that the materials and practices we employ are a reflection of our community.”

Jason Parker – Co-Owner + President of Copperworks Distilling Company

“Malt is not just a source of sugar to feed yeast, it’s the starting material for flavor, aroma, body, and color of your beer, and those first three for your whiskey and other distilled spirits. It’s also the best way to base your products in locally-produced grains, reduce the carbon footprint of your production, improve the local grain shed, and differentiate your products from all others on the market. Learning about malt is as important as learning your native language. Invest the time to learn where your malt comes from, how it is produced, and what makes it unique and you’ll speak the language of differentiation, local, and deliciousness!”

Brent Manning – Guild President and Co-Founder of Riverbend Malt House

“I always enjoy seeing the light bulb moment for people when they learn about malt. The culmination of the agriculture roots, production techniques, and wide-ranging flavors deepen their enjoyment and respect for the beers and spirits that they already loved!”

Jesse Bussard – Guild Executive Director

“Craft malt is where beer and agriculture meet. Maltsters essentially bridge the field-to-glass divide. Craft Malt Week is our Guild’s way of celebrating this relationship and everything craft malt brings to the table.”

Why is craft malt education important to you? Tell us on social media and tag @craftmalting!