Despite the endless calls they get asking for veterinary services and rabbits for sale, Rabbit Hill Malt only sells malt— and some sod too. The family farm and malting company in Shiloh, New Jersey was formerly located on Rabbit Hill Road an hour and a half north. “My grandfather lived there before he had to move the farm due to development issues,” says the malthouse co-founder Hillary Barile. She and her brother Blair Bakker launched Rabbit Hill Malt in 2015, with a name that nodded to the farm’s first location.
“We were looking for a farm transition point for both of us to continue and do something that would be both economically and environmentally viable in the foreseeable future,” Barile says. Bakker was an active homebrewer, so malting was both a viable and interesting diversification for the farm. “We provided potatoes for our community for four generations, so part of why malting brings us that joy is that connection to our food,” Barile says. “This barley that I grew and I processed– I can show you where it came from. This is why it makes a difference.”
Rabbit Hill Malt is making a difference in beers and spirits across New Jersey with a wide spectrum of varieties including Farmhouse Pilsner, a 2 and 6 Row Barley, Wheat Malt, Rye Malt, Oat malt, Spelt Malt, Barley Chit malt, Pale Ale malt, and Light Munich. All of Rabbit Hill’s offerings are floor malted. “We enjoy the floor malting,” Barile says. “You can get high-quality malt out of a variety of systems, and we just find quality in this particular process.”
That process paid off at this year’s Malt Cup awards, where Rabbit Hill was awarded a gold in the Pilsen category for Farmhouse Pilsner and named Best in Show. The feedback from their 2021 entries is what Barile says helped them tweak their process to succeed in 2022.
The Bariles and Bakkers, fifth-generation farmers, are still an entirely family-run operation. They even hand-deliver malt bags to their customers. They’re committed to staying independent as they expand, and to continuing floor malting as volume increases. A new kiln will allow for even more products in the portfolio going forward.
The accolades continue— earlier this year Barile, who also serves as the Guild’s Board of Directors Vice President, was selected as New Jersey’s 2021 Outstanding Young Farmer at the combined 2021 and 2022 National Outstanding Young Farmers Awards Congress.
Barile’s passion for agriculture and Bakker’s love of the beverage industry both shine at Rabbit Hill’s humble operation. Their passion for the product and the communities they serve keeps them dedicated to high-quality malt production, not to mention to the quality of the malt industry at large.
Why does it matter what people put in their shopping cart or their beer recipe? “Because you can taste the difference in freshness and variety, and supply chain shortness,” Barile adds. “We want to communicate that you can change the world by choosing what you buy more carefully.”