A growing number of American distillers are making malt whiskey, and that increasing interest is generating a lot of questions about barley. Whether for product differentiation, performance, or flavor contribution, distillers are now looking for more diversity in their malts.
Luckily, they have great partners in maltsters, farmers and barley breeders. One of the worldwide leaders in this exploration is Oregon State University professor Pat Hayes, and on Saturday May 21, he and the OSU Barley World crew are inviting everyone involved in the barley cycle to Barley Day.
Oregon State University professor Pat Hayes, in the OSU barley nursery .
On Barley Day, distillers, brewers, bakers, maltsters, millers, farmers, barley breeders and other unsavory sorts will convene at OSU for a day of discussion, collaboration, laboratory and field tours, pancakes and beer.
Starting at 9 a.m. in the Crop Science Building, Amy Halloran, author of “The New Bread Basket,” will make pancakes while Hayes provides an overview of OSU’s barley work. After breakfast, the group will tour the greenhouse, doubled haploid lab, malt lab and malt facilities with short speeches from experts in their respective fields from lab to bottle.
One of the speakers, Seth Klann of Mecca Grade Estate Malt, was featured alongside Hayes and Tualatin Valley Distilling in Artisan Spirit Magazine’s Spring issue for their work to create an all-Oregon single malt whiskey.
During the tour attendees will learn about OSU’s breakthrough doubled haploid program, find out what factors they consider in their breeding and selection, get an up close look at the rare Oregon Wolfe barleys and tour the university’s new malt lab.
The malt lab features a mini-malter and a malt analysis center for genetic, terroir, and malting flavor and performance research. Next door, OSU’s fermentation science department has beer, wine and cheese labs, as well as a growing distillation lab and program under OSU professor and Artisan Spirit Magazine contributor Paul Hughes.
Just up the road at Hylsop Farm, lunch will feature local meats, vegetables, barley-based breads and even malted barley ice cream. There, the Barley World crew will lead tours of over 2,000 field plots while explaining the different equipment and procedures utilized in each part of the production process.
The talks and tours will educate the different players in the barley cycle about their partners’ roles and challenges so they can work together to create more value for one another. Farmers can find new markets for their barley, maltsters will learn what brewers and distillers are most interested in using, and brewers, bakers, distillers and consumers will learn what it takes to get that barley from the lab to their business.
Visiting barley breeders and researchers will lead several of the discussions, giving an idea of the dynamic, widespread barley work happening across the U.S. Maltsters, millers and equipment manufacturers will explain their processes, as will brewers, bakers and distillers from a dynamic range of production sizes and business models.
Barley Day wraps up with a networking social at the Block 15 Brewing taproom in south Corvallis. Head brewer Matt Williams worked with Hayes on a special Barley Day beer, for which Klann from Mecca Grade personally delivered a few bags of his mechanically floor-malted Full Pint barley, a variety Hayes developed at OSU about a decade ago.
“I tried to keep the beer simple so the malt could really have an opportunity to take the front and show what flavors it brings to the table,” tells Williams, who is brewing a lightly-hopped blonde ale for the event. “I think it’s going to make a really nice beer.”
Alongside Block 15, Hummingbird Wholesale, the American Malting Barley Association, Washington State University and the Cascadia Grains Conference, a similar event also detailed in our Spring issue, are sponsoring the day of learning, fun, networking, pancakes, beer and barley.
Participation is limited to 100, so early registration is recommended. Registration instructions and a detailed agenda are available at www.barleyworld.org.