Spent the morning with Andrea of Valley Malt http://www.valleymalt.com/ in Hadley, Massachusetts. With her 2 year old daughter Sara on her hip she showed us around their malting facility and fields planted with malt barley and we learned a lot.
Hadley is a different place from where we live where there is a constant battle between farmland and suburban sprawl. In Hadley everyone lives along the road and the land behind the houses all remains in agriculture and is referred to locally as “the old meadow.” Located in an oxbow of the Connecticut River this land is very fertile and has been farmed since the Native Americans lived there. The soil is a type known as Haldey Loam and is one of the better sandy loam soils in the country.
Andrea and her husband grow malt barley on about 40 acres of land in Hadley. Behind their malt house they have another five acres which they rent from a neighbor. This is where they do field trials. In addition to malting barley they raise themselves organically they buy barley from other organic farmers. In their malting facility barley kernels are steeped in water, then germinated, releasing the sugars. The barley is then “kilned” which essentially means dried. The Malt House, which started production in 2010, sells the locally grown barley to craft brewers through the Northeast