That single question, and the journey to answer it, was the genesis of Blacklands Malt.
Back in February 2012 Brandon woke up with an idea. Actually, he woke up with a funny word in his head "Wunderbarley" (an amalgamation of the German word for wonderful and barley). Not before long the question finally struck him: where do local craft brewers get their malt?
There has been so much focus on the "beer side" of the craft beer industry for the past decade that few have given any thought to the supply chain side of beer. And who's to blame? Craft beer is exciting, independent, and tasty, and brewing it is downright sexy.
Some research of the USDA ARS database quickly answered the question: no cereal grains (barley, wheat, oats, rye) of any sort are grown and malted here in Texas for brewing. Why weren't malting grains grown locally in Texas? Why do brewers ship malt thousands of miles overseas in what seems to be a constantly shifting global food shortage? Who even sells malt and where does it come from?!
And so began what quickly became our obsession with answering these questions. That obsession with finding out the "truth" about malt would quickly spiral into what has now become our life's dream. Three months after that silly word popped into Brandon's head on a Thursday morning, we founded Blacklands Malt, LLC with the intention of changing the landscape of local malt production. From starting out with Texas having no ties to barley, to discovering farmers in West Texas growing barley for feed, to now collaborating with Texas A&M University on barley trials, it has certainly been an amazing roller coaster ride of discoveries and learning. But this is just the beginning.
It's time to take the good sense of sustainable local food production and bring agricultural back to a local level. Why ship malt overseas, adding to transportation costs and environmental impact, when barley can be grown and malted right here in Texas? 100 years ago every brewery malted their own locally sourced grains. In the years since, the drive to maximize profits, increase yields, and squeeze every penny out of crops has given way to massive conglomerations of grain producers and maltsters who have taken away the local production of foodstuffs and disconnected consumers from their natural ties with agriculture and food sources.
And so our crazy journey begins, to bring back the local malthouse for local communities. Our dream is to someday soon sit down on a cool Fall day in Austin and enjoy a beer made from 100% Texas grown malted barley. We hope you will stick around to learn more about malting, get energized about local food production, and support the dream to have a truly local Texas beer. So, who's thirsty?