Micro Maltster

Oregon farm to grow and malt barley on-site

Christensen Farms Malting Company in Oregon’s Willamette Valley plans to soon become the first commercial operation capable of supplying small batches of site-malted grain.
Fifth-generation farmer Zach Christensen, 33, is planning to launch a malting operation on his family’s farm early next year.

Other small brewers have grown and malted barley to produce ‘estate’ beers, but Christensen’s farm will be one of the first small-batch maltsters targeting craft brewers in the country.

Christensen’s alma mater, Oregon State University, is currently working on small-scale malting techniques that can be used on Oregon-grown barley.

His family has 3,000 acres raising mostly grass seed and another 500 growing hazelnuts. But with the grass seed industry reeling, he has shifted more than 200 acres to barley, which he is reserving for malting. Christensen developed the pilot plant in a 5,000-square-foot building on his farm. He intends to use it to house the larger-scale system to come as well.

Christensen is now making the final adjustments to a smaller-sized steeper, germinator and kiln system that will process up to 10 tons at a time.


  1. Joe Rogue says

    Rogue Ales breaks ground on malting floor


    (Tygh Valley, OR) – June 29, 2010 – The Rogue Nation Department of Agriculture has broken ground on the Rogue Malt Floor located on the Rogue Micro Barley Farm in Oregon’s Tygh Valley Appellation.

    The Malt Floor will be a Heritage-malting operation in which Rogue Farm barley will be soaked, floor-germinated, hand-raked on the malt floor, roasted in a brick hearth, and bagged in small batches. Rogue Brewmaster John Maier plans on developing 4-6 varieties of floor malt that will be used in the brewing and distilling of Rogue Ales, Porters, Stouts, Lagers, and Whiskies.

    Floor malting began in the 19th century but was gradually replaced by automated equipment that helped reduce labor costs. With the establishment of the malt floor, Rogue joins a select handful of floor maltsters in Germany, England, and the Czech Republic that continue to carry on the heritage malting method.

    The Malt Floor will be complete and operational in August — in time for the Rogue Farm barley harvest. Complimentary tours of the Malt Floor will be provided and will also include tours of Rogue rock, Rogue-henge, Rogue creek, and the Rogue fishing pond.

    The Rogue Nation Department of Agriculture remains committed to saving the terroir of Oregon hops and barley, one acre at a time, by growing its own.

    For more information on the Rogue Malt Floor, Farm tours, or Rogue’s Grow Your Own revolution, contact the Rogue Department of Agriculture at 503.241.3800.

    Updates on the progress of the Malt Floor will be provided at http://www.rogue.com/locations/locations.php.

  2. Moonlight says

    I have seen pics of a smaiil one near Reno, NV. I believe there is also a small one in Colorado owned by barley growers.

  3. liammckenna says

    Good luck to all the micro maltsters out there. You are braver than I.

    Quality (consistency mainly) will be difficult but not impossible.

    As with all raw materials, crap in = crap out



  4. jrbeck says

    There has also been some discussion of building a micro malting facility on Eatwell Farm in Dixon (by Davis), CA. This is following the success of the barley they grew for the ‘100% Californian’ beer produced by Thirsty Bear Brewing in SF this past summer. They had to ship it to Colorado Malting to be malted. The project was just theoretical, but there were some interested parties.


  5. nohandslance says

    liammckenna wrote: Good luck to all the micro maltsters out there. You are braver than I.

    Quality (consistency mainly) will be difficult but not impossible.

    As with all raw materials, crap in = crap out



    I type this while waiting for ‘break through’ in the withering/kiln process here at Rebel Malting. Liam, from a brewers prospective said it best. ‘Consistency’ is the key to our success. To date I have sent 7 batches to the landfill, one exploded stomach of a prize bull, and lots of hog and chicken feed. Extracts have been good but not perfect. Without complete lab and process controls, it is very difficult to produce a raw material that can compete @ a cost per KG with the larger malthouses. I love them for this. Securing contracts for the the barley one year out and watching ‘Mom’ nature is one of the great pleasures of the process. When visiting the CBC in San Francisco this March, or you get a visit from your malt rep, give them a hug.

    Thanks Liam for your great input.
    AlexisScarlett, ‘Rock Awn’
    Rebel Malting Co.
    Reno, Nevada USA