In 2022, craft maltsters will produce an estimated 24.7 million pounds of craft malt, a 60% increase over just three years ago, says Jesse Bussard, the executive director of the North American Craft Maltsters Guild.
“In the past decade, we’ve gone from 8 founding Member Malthouses to nearly 70 today,” they said.
Those craft maltsters have been busy through harvest earlier this autumn but a few took some time to weigh in with field reports.
Admiral Maltings (California)
“The 2022 California barley crop faced similar challenges to the 2021 crop, namely a lack of rain. Thankfully, the farmers we work with did well with the hand they were dealt and were able to produce a quality crop in all the regions we source from (Sacramento Valley, Tulelake, and Petaluma),” says Curtis Davenport.
“Proteins are on the high end of the desirable range (~11.5%), but all the barley is plump with excellent germination. Yields were lower than expected, so our supply looks to be tight going into the next harvest and we are hopeful for an improved 2023 crop.”
Montana State University Barley, Malt & Brewing Quality Lab
“We had a tough season here in MT – better than last year, but not the year we’d hoped for to make up for how bad it was last season,” says Hannah Turner.
Rabbit Hill Malt (New Jersey)
“Our growing season (for winter barley) was long and comfortable due to the extended warm autumn of 2021 and adequate spring moisture,” says Hillary Barile.
“Our harvest season was warm and dry, which gave us the ability to achieve good storage moisture from the field. This combination gave us excellent barley quality and good storability going into the silos. I am just starting to malt the 2022 barley and, so far, it looks great.”
Maker’s Malt (Saskatchewan, Canada)
“Coming off the massive drought of 2021 western Canadian production has generally rebounded. Here in Saskatchewan, we will expect an overall average crop with quite a bit of individual variability,” says Matt Enns. “Secondary to low soil reserve moisture, areas receiving rain are getting bumper harvests and others are being entirely left out of the fun.
Locally, our farm was still abnormally dry, having received about 4.5″ of rain in the growing season and our barley yielded ~80 bushes/acre or 75% of our target expectations. Our zero nitrogen lots came through with the best quality parameters keeping protein in check despite the dryness. We will be running 2022 crop batches in the malt house starting next week.”
Mitten State Malt (Michigan)
“My winter two-row (Violetta and Calypso) did pretty well over in the Thumb area (hold up your right hand with the palm facing you and about mid-way up your thumbnail is the spot!). It had reasonable fall weather last year to get started,” says Larry Judge.
“The Violetta came through the cold weather a little better than the Calypso did (but in its defense, the Calypso was planted a few days later vs. Violetta). However, my spring two-row (Odyssey) grown in the center part of the lower peninsula (center of your right-hand palm) did not do well as it was very dry from mid-June until we finally got a little rain in early August, but by then it was too late and it was pretty much dead.
The pH of this field is a little acidic but we applied lime pellets this spring and except for a couple of spots, it looked pretty good until we got basically no rain for about six weeks while it was very hot during this period.
“I planted all Violetta in the Thumb this year but will likely try Odyssey again next spring in the hopes of getting some mid-summer rain,” says Judge. “I had a report from another Michigan malthouse that grew Pinnacle in the Thumb area this past summer and reported it did pretty well for them.”