We are always looking for ways to keep what we do as local as possible. One of things we have been doing is sourcing grain from Four Star Farms in Northfield Massachusetts for all of our beers. Jabby Brau uses Soft Red Winter Wheat, Smoke & Dagger uses Barley and Hoponius uses Hulled Spelt. However, unlike most grain that is used in the brewing process these grains are unmalted.
Malting is a process by which grain is transformed so that it can be used to brew. First the grains are soaked and allowed to germinate or sprout. This converts the seed’s starch reserves into smaller carbohydrates and releases enzymes. These enzymes are later used during the brewing process to convert the remaining starches into fermentable sugar. Once the desired balance is reached, germination is halted by drying the malt in a kiln, preserving this state until you are ready to brew. How hot and long the grain is dried determines the flavor, color and character of the finished malt.
The enzymes released by malting are essential to the brewing process. However, malting releases more enzymes than are needed. The excess enzymes can be used with a small amount of unmalted grain to add certain properties to the beer. It is in this manner that we utilize most of the local grain that is used in our beers. Even though unmalted grain consists of a relatively small amount of the total grain we use it allows us to add unique flavors and properties to our beers that we could not otherwise obtain.
For our upcoming Wet Hop lager, which we brewed last week, we wanted to make a truly local beer. We had already been brewing it with hops grown on our family farm in Vermont, but we felt that we could do more. To accomplish this we teamed up with Valley Malts, a new Massachusetts based Malthouse who provided us with locally grown and malted barley. In addition we used unmalted Wheat, Spelt and Triticale. We are proud to say that every ingredient used in Mom and Pop’s Wet Hop Crop is sourced locally.