Malting company begins construction on new projectWritten by Emilee Gibb
Pine Bluffs – The Wyoming Malting Company broke ground on July 1 for their malting facility in Pine Bluffs.
“All of the malt used in Wyoming right now comes out of Wisconsin, Minnesota, Idaho and Canada. So there’s not a single source for Wyoming-made malt at this point,” says Wyoming Malting Company Co-Owner Chad Brown.
The company plans to fill an open niche in Wyoming agriculture, while creating jobs in the state and providing additional revenue to local farmers.
Brown and his cousin Gene Purdy, who has been farming for 22 years, are the visionaries and driving force behind Wyoming Malting Company.
“I was brewing beer in Las Vegas in my garage, and Gene came out to visit me,” notes Brown.
After discussing the price farmers were selling barley for and the price of malt for breweries, the pair decided that there was a business opportunity available.
“We thought, we should do a value-added product and try and make malt ourselves,” says Brown.
Brown moved to Wyoming in 2014 to work with Purdy on the farm where they created the business plans for the malting company.
The company plans to be done with construction sometime in mid-December to early January and be operational by January or February of 2017.
“Once we are operational, the malting process is about a one-week process,” explains Brown. “Once we have all of our equipment installed and have done a few test batches, we will be able to start producing malt pretty quick.”
Malt is made using cereal grains subjected to the “malting” process. The grains are moistened to promote germination and then dried using heated air to stop the germination process. Malt is used in many products with beer and whiskey production being two of the most well known.
The company will hire four people for the beginning of production and plans to grow from there.
“As far as product, when we open we’ll be making 500 tons of malt per year,” continues Brown.
The Wyoming Business Council has awarded an approximately $3.4 million grant and loan that is being dedicated to use for construction and infrastructure of the malting facility.
“The Cheyenne LEADS organization and Laramie County worked with the malting company. So the grant and loan from the Wyoming Business Council was actually awarded to the county,” notes Wyoming Business Council Agribusiness Director Lisa Johnson.
After completion of the facility, Cheyenne LEADS will hold ownership of the property and will lease the facilities to the malting company.
“To access public funding, we need to have public ownership of the facilities. Cheyenne LEADS as a community development organization qualifies as a public entity to own the property,” explains Cheyenne LEADS Business Development Director Anja Bendel.
Bendel notes that the malting company is a strong example of a value-added business that achieve higher return on a local product, as well as an opportunity to create a new business opportunity with existing resources.
“It’s a new business for Wyoming, but they’re taking advantage of existing infrastructure, particularly the farming industry in the area,” Bendel concludes.
As well as using creativity to add value to their product, Johnson impresses the significance of the business on both local and statewide commerce.
“In addition to finding a greater market for crops, this creates jobs in the community of Pine Bluffs and adds to the local tax base, so that helps Pine Bluffs, that helps Laramie County and it helps Wyoming,” says Johnson.
“The mission is to provide local farmers another avenue to grow another crop – being barley – and then produce a locally made malt,” says Brown.
Ultimately, the company plans to progressively expand both production and job creation in the future.
“We’re hoping to grow pretty quickly. In the next five years, we’re looking at hiring 15 to 20 people,” he continues.
The company hopes to grow production from 500 tons per year to 1,200 tons of malt per year within five years.
“Maybe in 10 years we could be at the 2,000- or 3,000-ton mark of production,” notes Brown.
Regardless of growth, the company desires to stay within the craft malting scope. Brown explains that large malting companies in the United States produce 200,000 tons of malt per year and often create 300-ton batches.
“Our plan is to stay in the craft side of the industry and focus on the regional breweries and brew pubs and really keep the product local,” emphasizes Brown.