Updated: Aug 22
When visitors come to Beer City to drink our luscious suds they are bound to see a draft list that mentions Riverbend malt. What is Malt? Fundamentally malt is barley that has been harvested from the countryside and changed into another product called malted barley, or malt for short. Malthouses transform this extremely important agricultural product of barley into a specialized and nuanced beer raw ingredient called malt. By using water, air, time and temperature the maltster has the ability to modify the barley into many different types of malts. By stewing, kilning and/or roasting the grains the maltster can provide the brewer with sugars for fermentation, colors for the beer and a plethora of malt flavors and aromas for enjoying all styles of beer. Malt is the basis of all beer and is commonly overlooked because of the recent popularity of hops.
In Beer City we are lucky to be surrounded by beer, breweries and beer related raw ingredients such as malted barley from Riverbend Malthouse. Riverbend Malthouse is a special tale of how to start a malthouse using brilliance as well as trial and error by very smart and passionate people. For the past 10 years these really smart scientists and former scientists built their malt business on the idea that there were no other craft maltsters in the Southeast and they wanted a local malt option not available at the time.They are pioneers just like Ken Grossman was a pioneer 40 years ago when he created Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. Today, Riverbend has sparked a craft malt revolution in this country and we are proud to have them as THE local malt resource in Beer City. In fact,"Inc. named Riverbend Malt House number 2804 on the list of the 5000 fastest growing private companies in America. This achievement comes on the heels of a major facility expansion, which increased Riverbend’s malting capacity by more than 50 percent."What a great gift to the brewers, distilleries and beer drinkers in the Southeast!
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I have been lucky enough to visit Riverbend Malthouse more than once and I have seen the business grow a lot. I learn something about beer and malt every time I take a tour from co-founder Brent Manning. I think Brent is one of the few people in town who have performed more tours than me in the last 10 years.The massive production facility that houses all of their equipment is a gigantic 70,000 square foot facility located in South Asheville.
Riverbend has flourished because of their mission.They stand by sourcing their grains locally, floor malting their grains, collaborating with as many breweries and distilleries in the Southeast as possible, utilizing their best environmental and sustainability practices and providing some of the best flavor profiles in malt in the nation.
Riverbend sources their grains from no further than 500 miles from Asheville in order to give a distinct terroir to their malt as well as having an intentional and direct relationship with the barley farmers. Not only do they have distinct flagship malts like the ones below (look at the color difference) they give brewers the opportunity to create their own specialty malts specifically kilned in order to get the malt essence of the beers that inspire them. What a cool and prudent local malt option! This special option gives brewers the ability to hone in on the exact malt flavors that they desire in a style.
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