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Where Do I Buy My Beer and Wine Supplies Now?!?

With Duluth Homebrew Supply closing where you get your beer, wine, and everything else making supplies matters. You can always go to Amazon, but why not support small(er) independent retailer?

In Minnesota here, Northern Brewer and Midwest Supplies have been the big retailers dominating the Midwest both online and with actual stores. But, Northern Brewer purchased Midwest back around 2013. There was little fanfare about this. More news hit when the venture capital arm of AB InBev, yes Budwiser et all, ZX Ventures purchased Northern Brewer/ Midwest Supplies near the end of 2016. Now, if you visit Northern Brewer, you will see promotions for other AB InBev High End Breweries; Goose Island, Elysian, and Golden Road. Northern Brewer/Midwest Supplies definitely has a large selection and almost everything you could need or want. Personally, I (Nate) am going take my business to other retailers. I have some suggestions that were given to me:

Local:

Wine Creations (http://www.winecreations.biz/)

With two locations, Hermantown and Grand Rapids, wine creations is the closest retail shop and locally owned.

Wine Beginnings

Retail store focusing on wine and wine accessories with some making items. Local.

Local-ish:

WindRiver Brewing Company (windriverbrew.com)

Located down in Barron, this homebrew store has been around since the early 1990’s is some form and is now located a bit off 53 on the way to Eau Claire.

BeerMeister (beermeistersupplies.com)

Based out of Plymouth, MN, known for beer dispensing equipment but also has a good supply of beer and wine making equipment and ingredients.

Internet: (I have purchased from some of these but not all)

Adventures in Homebrewing – MI (homebrewing.org)

Austin Homebrew Supply – TX (austinhomebrew.com)

Great Fermentations – IN (greatfermentations.com)

The Homebrewery – MO (homebrewery.com)

Love2Brew – NJ (love2brew.com)

MoreBeer – CA (morebeer.com)

RiteBrew – Little Chute, WI (ritebrew.com)

Williams Brewing – CA (williamsbrewing.com)

Wine and Hop Shop – Madison, WI (wineandhop.com)

Hops:

Yakima Valley Hops – WA in the middle of hop farms… (yakimaalleyhops.com)

 

There are many choices out there and many more than are listed above. Find what you need, shop around, pay attention to shipping and support homebrewing wherever you make your purchase from. Cheers!

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Craft Malt

In recent years, the hop industry has seed a shift away from breeding for high alpha acids and bitterness (what the big guys want) to more flavor and aroma. The malt industry is starting to make the same transition. Barley breeding has historically produced strains that produce more yield and are more disease resistant. The barley is sent to a few gigantic maltsters to produce the range of malts comercial and homebrewers use. There are a few special varieties of barley that make their way into malt (think Maris Otter) and some maltsters have been producing malt that is made using historic methods, like floor malting. BUT there are now a small number of craft maltsters that are producing small batches of malt, creating unique flavors, and malting grains mostly for their local brewers.

What makes craft malt so special?

Craft maltsters produce malt on a small scale. Some members of the parent organization, the Craft Maltsters Guild, produce as little as 5 metric tons a year. Some produce as much as 10,000 metric tons. This sounds like a lot, and it is. By comparison, Rahr Malting, in Minnesota here, opened an expansion late in 2016 that increased their Shakopee facility by 70,000 metric tons! Again, this increased their production by seven times what the largest craft maltster makes. Rahr now produces about 460,000 metric tons a year.

Craft maltsters source local ingredients. The Craft Maltsters Guild states that over 50% of the grains processed by craft maltsters are grown within 500 miles of the malthouse. Some malthouses even grow their own to be turned immediately into malt. This allows them to experiment with different varieties that are not widely grown and make specialty grains.

 

Craft maltsters are also independently owned. With buyouts and mergers in the beer industry making the news every week, the same is happening on farms and other food production facilities. The Craft Maltsters Guild supports malthouses who want to stay independent and produce special products for their neighbors.

Since craft maltsters are independent and use local ingredients, they can tell you right where the grains come from. What harvest, what farm, and even what field.

They have the flexibility to try different grains, heirloom varieties and results of advancing breeding programs.

They also have the ability to try new techniques. The process in malting can make a significant impact on the flavor of the malt. The different production techniques can conserve resources while making high quality products.

What craft malsters are there?

At the moment, there is only one craft maltster in Minnesota that is a member of the Craft Maltsters Guild. Vertical Malt Company is up in Fisher Minnesota. There are other craft malt houses in the Midwest; North Dakota and Michigan being a few of the closest. There are also more opening.

We have group accustomed to the variety of hops that can impact our beer. Why not do the same for the malt? Search out unique malts and try some malt from craft maltsters.

Other information and links: