Hoppin’ good time: Carolina Malt House hosts “Brewers Field Day and Harvest Party”

Published 12:05 am Tuesday, May 21, 2024

CLEVELAND — When drinking an ice-cold beer from one of the many breweries that have popped up across the Carolinas in recent years, people may not immediately think of all of the ingredients that go into it. Thankfully, it’s Carolina Malt House’s job to do just that.

On May 16, Carolina Malt House held its annual “Brewers Field Day and Harvest Party” to invite brewery professionals to Cleveland from North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Georgia to see firsthand how the malt they use in their beer is grown and processed. 

Carolina Malt House founder Aaron Goss’ journey began when he home brewed beer while attending Wake Forest Law School, eventually buying his own barley from farmers and malted it himself. 

“I thought about opening a brewery, but then I had the idea of what if instead, at the time nobody was malting locally grown grain. So, what if we instead start malting locally grown grain and offer it for sale to all the breweries that already exist,” Goss said.

Since 2015, when Goss “hopped on a bulldozer and started building the place,” Carolina Malt has grown exponentially in less than a decade. As a way of saying thank you for their business, Goss invites brewers to his malt house every year to celebrate local agriculture, hang out and to sample each other’s beers. Due to heavy rain the night before, the field day portion of the festivities was canceled, but farmer Philip Sloop still brought out oat and barley crops and answered any questions guests had. 

This season, six growers were in charge of no more than 250 acres of farmland to supply the best malt possible to breweries.

Jacob Schmiederer with Haw River Farmhouse Ales in Saxapahaw only became head brewer a few days ago, but he said they have gotten a vast majority of their grain from Carolina Malt House for the past few years and he couldn’t be happier with them.

“We’ve always liked their product and they’ve been really good to work with,” Schmiederer said.

Schmiederer said he learned a lot from Sloop and felt comforted when he discovered where the grain they buy comes from. 

“They’ve always been big on quality, so getting to have the farmer out here was really cool,” Schmiederer said. 

Once Sloop finished speaking, but prior to lunch being served, Goss took groups on tours of what goes on with their malting process.

Goss showed off his 100-year-old clipper machine that cleans their grain. He then took each group to the top of a steep tank to see the grain hydrated with water splashing up at the surface. Afterwards, the grain is germinated to where they “hold the temperature to a tenth of a degree so enzymes vital to the brewing process can be developed and synthesized,” according Carolina’s Malt House’s website. The grain is later kilned to take away moisture and the rootlets are separated from the kernels, a process called deculming. Finally, the malt is bagged and soon shipped to breweries. 

After Marshall Berry with Southern Strain Brewing Company out of Concord completed the tour, he was glad to have witnessed everything that he did. 

“I thought it was pretty cool. It was very interesting, especially during the aeration bath. I’ve seen videos on YouTube and all that about it, but seeing it in person is a totally different experience,” Berry said.