How it all shakes out at Valley Malt.
We have been building some beautiful relationships in the community with brewers and farmers and in many cases connecting the two together. Many brewers are facinated with the process of growing a product that they work so closely with. Being a part of rebuilding the local drink infrastructure is the best job anyone could ask for
A Little Bit About Rotation
Barley is an excellent crop for giving nutrients back into the soil and has roots that can penetrate as deep as 6.5 feet deep allowing for excellent soil tilth and erosion control. Using barley as part of a farm’s rotation, especially as a winter crop, will give overworked land needed nutrients and erosion control in the earl spring while still providing a profitable market for the product. This will promote more sustainable farming practices and more biodiversity to the Pioneer Valley’s soil.
To put it simply we have fallen in love with barley and are finding ourselves getting more involved in farming. An opportunity opened up this spring that will allow us to grow 28 acres of grains on the Grow Food Northampton land in Florence, MA. We will also continue to farm 5 acres of beautiful farmland behind the malthouse in Hadley. Many of these acres are cooperative agreements with local organic vegetable CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) Farms such as Crimson and Clover and Next Barn Over. These relationships allow us to find more land to grow barley and also allow the CSA farmers to allow their land to rest for a year or two.
No chemicals, no major processes involved, just steeping, germinating (i.e. sprouting) and drying. It takes about 8 days to make raw grain into malt. The grain will be steeped for 2 days, sprouted for 3-5 days and kilned for 1-2 days. In this time, enzymes are produces, proteins are broken down, and sugars are produced. Why malting, you may ask? In order to make beer, grain must undergo this process. The enzymes, starches and sugars produce the perfect food for yeast, which in the brewery will make beer. Raw grain alone could never do this without the maltster manipulating it. This is why a malthouse can become the link between local farmers and local brewers. Kiss a maltster if you know one.
If you farm and are interested in growing barley please send us an email.