Earlier this year, we started using locally produced malted grain for a few of our core beers: Colorado Cream Ale, Tangerine Cream, and Juicy Banger IPA.
We have partnered with Root Shoot Malting in Loveland to use their Colorado-grown and malted barley in our brewing process. Todd, Emily, Dan and the team at Root Shoot provide an excellent product and service and we are truly excited to be working with them. Their 1,500-acre farm has been in the Olander family for five generations - their experience and family-taught expertise is a big reason we were drawn to them.
Root Shoot is unlike any other maltster that we’ve worked with in that the team works hard to personalize our grain for us. Their Kaspar Shulz malting system is the only of its kind in operation in the United States, and one of three in operation in the world. The equipment, which Kaspar Shulz has been manufacturing since the 17th century, allows for custom-made malt specialized for our brewing process and beers. That customization allows us to focus on the process behind making consistent, high-quality beer without having to worry about variance in ingredients.
We use a custom Genie Pale in our beers, a lightly colored, well-modified two-row pilsner malt that is slightly honey-sweet, as well as bready and straw-like in flavor. Our Head Brewer Wayne is constantly working with the team at Root Shoot on minor modifications after every batch, perfecting the malt in the pursuit of perfecting the beer. The team at Root Shoot believes that malting should be given as much attention to modification, perfection, and experimentation as the brewing process itself, and we couldn’t agree more. Root Shoot has nailed their modification down to give us exactly what we need. It provides the fullest possible flavor while making everything more efficient. It’s craft malt, for craft beer.
The local aspect was big for us, too. We believe that a beer called Colorado Cream Ale should take most of its ingredients from within its namesake’s borders. Using local farms and ingredients, though more costly in most cases, provides for a more personal experience with the beer, and one that feels like home. It’s not just that Colorado is technically an ideal environment for barley due to low temperatures in the extended season and low humidity resulting in a lack of fungicides on the crops. It’s the personal benefits of having your malting partner up the road that we’re excited about. We are developing a closer relationship with the team at Root Shoot, connecting the Station 26 family from grain harvesters all the way to the customer in our taproom. From soil to suds, a good craft beer tells a comprehensive story, and the critical base ingredient often gets ignored in that story. We at Station 26 and Root Shoot are bringing the malt back front and center.
We hope to expand to ultimately use local Colorado-grown and harvested barley in all of our beers. Our partnership with Root Shoot is a good start down that golden road.