Monday, December 14, 2015

Malting Barley Research In Michigan Goes From Field to Glass

Written by  Paul Starr
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msu mount pleasant brewing company

Research efforts led by Michigan State University will soon be featured at the tap at Mount Pleasant’s Mountain Town Brewing Co. Malting barley grown in a variety trial in Isabella County in 2014 was recently malted by the Michigan native Pilot Malt House destined for a Spartan themed brew.

Researchers looking into malting barley production in Michigan over the last few years have always wanted to see some of that work go all the way from field to glass. Research shows barley can be grown in Michigan, but the real question is; does it make good beer? Scott Graham, from the Michigan Brewers Guild shared, “although local, in-state sourcing of ingredients for the craft beer industry is in high demand, it doesn’t matter how local it is, if the quality isn’t there, breweries won’t use it.”

MSU research on malting barley has instilled confidence in farmers throughout the state to try their hand at growing a historically widely cultivated crop. The increase in in-state processors, such as Pilot Malt House, has also created a market for the grain that must go through the malting process before ultimately made into beer. Ryan Hamilton, Pilot’s lead Maltster shared, “...MSU is instrumental to the success of Michigan's malting industry and we've always admired Mountain Town Brewing's commitment to sourcing quality local ingredients. We have been looking forward to this collaboration for a long time and we're honored to be a part of it!”

A mid-November collaboration brought together a farmer, a maltster, a brewer, and a researcher from the MSU Upper Peninsula Research and Extension Center (UPREC), who coordinates malting barley research in Michigan. The end result was a golden ale made with 100% Michigan malting barley – celebrating the rebirth of Michigan barley production. The idea brewmaster Kim Kowalski had was to showcase the barley flavor and added only a small amount of Michigan hops as not to mask any of the flavor aspects from the barley. “This brew will be a malt forward golden ale, lightly hopped so to accentuate the flavors this barley has to offer,” Kim explained.

The barley-focused ale, since named the Barnstormer, will be tapped for the first time this Friday, December 11th at the Mountain Town Brewing Company tap room in Mt. Pleasant. 

Paul Starr

Paul Starr

Paul Starr is the creator of the I'm a Beer Hound and one of the organizer and the driving force behind Art & Craft Beerfest, Lansing Beer Fest, Beerfest at the Ballpark Spring & Fall. When he's not working on Beer Hound he's probably watching the Lions, Tigers or Red Wings. Being a recent new Dad of twins, he doesn't have much extra time these days for mischief.