There are a lot of good reasons why artisan floor malting almost went extinct in the late 19th Century. This was the dawn of the Industrial Revolution and everything had to be done faster, bigger and with more consistency. The small malt houses that once dotted the countryside became obsolete.
So when we began floor malting the barley we grow at Rogue Farms, a lot of people thought we were crazy.
They’re right. Here’s why.
We’re Crazy Because: Floor Malting Is Slow
We don’t have saladin boxes or similar machines in the Farmstead Malt House at Rogue Farms in Tygh Valley, Oregon. From steeping the grain in tanks, to spreading it across the floor, to raking and flipping the grain to control germination, to shoveling it in the kiln and pouring it in the bag – we do it all by hand.
Which Is Not So Crazy Because…
Hand crafting our floor malt means we really get to know this very important ingredient for our whiskey and vodka. We know it’s when done germinating by studying the length of the acrospire and biting down on the kernels. We know it’s time to take it out of the kiln when the grain has a sweet malty flavor.
We wouldn’t know any of this if we bought our malt from someone else.
We’re Crazy Because: Floor Malting Is Small
On a good week, we malt 2,000 to 4,000 pounds of barley, rye or corn. These are incredibly small batches. A typical commercial run of malt weighs 350,000 pounds. It would take us two to three years to craft that much malt.
But This Isn’t So Crazy Either…
Going slow and working in small batches allows our maltsters to see, sniff, touch and taste the barley at every step in the process. If it’s hot and humid outside, they’ll flip the grain more often. If it’s cool, they’ll wait longer to flip. Each batch is custom made and no two are exactly alike.
We’re Crazy Because: Floor Malting Is Inconsistent
When brewing and distilling became professions, brewers and distillers became obsessed with consistency. Every bottle had to taste exactly the same. So they demanded consistency in their malt, and maltsters responded with machines, dials, gauges and eventually computers. The human touch was lost.
But Floor Malting Is An Art, Not A Science
Our idea of quality control is, “How does it taste?” When we put our malt into the hands of trained artisans, we knew that we were giving up consistency. But that’s okay with us because each batch of Rogue floor malt is unique, which means our spirits are one of a kind.
We’re Not So Crazy Because….
We love the flavor of floor malt. It’s fuller, more complex and doesn’t taste like it came from a factory.
We believe in the DIY Revolution, and that malting our own makes a difference when it comes to the quality of our spirits. So as crazy revolutionaries we’ll keep floor malting our barley, rye and corn, one slow, small, inconsistent batch at time.
Taste the difference for yourself with a bottle of Rogue Spirits.
Categories: Farmstead Malting