Vermont Malt House...More than Malt.Dec 06, 2022 05:25PM ● By John Gales
Vermont Malt House
More than Malt
A regenerative farm and a model for other agriculturalists. When people think of beer and how it’s made, the first ingredients that come to mind are likely barley and hops. In reality, it’s malt that serves as the centerpiece. BrewView spoke with Rob Hunter, the General Manager of the Vermont Malt House. He explained, “Malt is the workhorse of all beer. If you look at the color of beer, the sweetness, the alcohol content—that’s all dependent on malt.” He says you can make a beer without hops, but you can’t make one without malt. If malt is the steak and potatoes, hops are the salt and pepper.
Rob is part of the new team that took the business over in 2021. Since then, the facility has grown exponentially in a variety of ways. Rob and Jamie Dragon, the Head Maltsers, worked at the previous rendition of the Malthouse. “Because we were part of the previous incarnation of this site, we knew the flaws and hiccups,” Rob explained. “We were able to hit the ground running, identify these problems, and then come up with a plan to revamp the entire malthouse from top to bottom.”
Right now, the malthouse farms grains like wheat and rye, but they’re hoping to expand that. The grains they work on now are grown in massive quantities, to the point where they’re looking for more growers. What they can’t get locally, they still source regionally, though they always keep quality in mind. Hoping to grow different types of barley moving forward, they're looking to add oats and experiment with new types of malts, pilsner, wheat, and rye malts. They want to create Vienna, Munich and Pale malts that require higher-temperature kilns. Getting to work in smaller batches will help with those experimental, customizable grains while working directly with brewers.
To make that happen, they’ve upgraded all the equipment and made moves to go solar and decrease their carbon footprint. A new flaker system will come online at the malthouse in April. The new technology gives them more room to improve and more ability to experiment with different base grains.
When the new owner, Will Raap, bought the property, he bought much more than just the malthouse. He has a bigger mission. “Essentially, it’s an agricultural incubator space,” Rob elaborated. “What that means is, we have a bunch of different businesses that are tied to what we produce here as a farm on the property.” The House of Fermentology for instance, has an aging facility on the property. There's a shrimp farmer on the land, a slow-fire bakery, and now a microbe business is also thinking about coming on board. “The bigger push on this property is really about becoming a regenerative agricultural center for Vermont and the model for other farms who are struggling with agricultural access."" Rob said. "It's pretty sweet" he added.
Being so close to the breweries who partner with the Malthouse is also a plus. If they need something special or different, they can request it directly; if they need something on short notice, they can simply drive over.
Rob says there needs to be changes made to the way farming is going. He’s happy to be at the center of it, and he’s proud to keep Vermont as the green, agricultural state that people have become accustomed to. “It’s not just us they’re supporting,” Rob said of brewers and farmers who partner with the Vermont Malthouse. “Going back to the mission of the larger organization that we’re part of, we’re really trying to support the farming communities throughout Vermont. It’s a slow growth bringing people on these different farms. We’re experimenting ourselves with growing most of our own grains on-site, so that we can go to the next level, which is working with the local farmers down the road and then hopefully statewide.”
Vermont Malt House
1211 Ethan Allen Highway