Monday, February 16, 2009

American 2-row Barley

I was happy to receive the 50lb sack of American 2-row barley that I ordered today so that I can use it to brew an IPA when I got off midnight shifts this weekend. It's been about a year now since I upgraded to all-grain homebrewing and I really like getting to use the basic ingredients and knowing where it all comes from. Now that I have a grain mill I've been trying to buy my base malts in bulk to save money, have the freshest ingredients on hand and to have more control over the brewing process. Using authentic ingredients are as important in brewing as they are in cooking and winemaking and the malting process and 2-row barley varieties differ somewhat in other countries. So in order to make a authentic German beer it's not necessary but if possible I would like to use German malted barley, of which I have been using on my recent lager beers from a 55lb sack of Weyermann Pilsner malt from Bamberg Germany. Now you would think that since I live in one of the premier barley growing regions of the country (this portion of north central MT is also known as the "Golden Triangle" for its production of barley and wheat) that it would be easy to get some locally produced American 2-row barley malt, but that is not the case. Most of the barley grown around here is under contract to the big breweries like Anheuser-Busch (now in-bev) and Coors. There is a huge malting facility just outside of Great Falls that has a 200,000 ton capacity, but still there is no local barley malt to be found for me because all of this again is under contract to go to the big guys. So, I had to order my American malt from an online store in California to ship me 2-row barley that was malted in Vancouver Washington, which may or may not contain some Montana grown barley. Actually the Great Western Malting company claims to use malt from all over the Pacific NW including MT, so it is possible that some of the malt is locally grown, but I think the bulk of it is from Idaho. Anyway, I finally have my American 2-Row barley and will be formulating an IPA recipe over the next few days. but I will always be on the lookout for some way to get locally grown/malted barley.

1 comment:

J. Scott Turner said...

bemBob,

Loved your blog! A friend and I actually started a business to create an "estate brewery" whereby we grew the barley on his farm, sent it from CA to MN for malting, they sent it back and we brewed beer with it. It produced some super beers and one fine barley wine but the market was not there for it. Long story short is that we got out the business but are still home brewing. We are unimpressed with the malt products available at the local brew supply store. Thinking of putting in 20 acres of barley for a premium 2 row American that sells at a premium price $1.75 or more? Whatcha think? It costs a lot to ship but we are thinking just staying with local suppliers (CA). Scott