Victoria’s House of Malt is the latest malthouse to join in the supply of boutique craft malts to the Australian beer industry.
Founded by Drew Graham, formerly of Joe White, House of Malt has been operating commercially for six months. Having watched the growth of the boutique craft malt movement in the USA, Graham told Brews News that he’d decided there was a similar opportunity for such a movement in Australia.
“I started to get this idea that it would be a really interesting idea to start something along those lines,” Graham explained.
It wasn’t long after he made the decision to pursue House of Malt that Voyager Craft Malt opened in New South Wales.
“With Voyager being in New South Wales I thought there was a gap in the market here in Victoria,” he said.
“With the amount of breweries in Victoria, I felt that creating a malt house that was small and did small-batch stuff would really fit in with the ethos of the craft brewing community as a whole.
“The idea was mulling around in my brain for a while that I ended up leaving the larger malt house and started out on a journey to start up my own.”
Graham said that his approach has been to start very very small.
“I didn’t have a huge amount of money to put into it and I didn’t really want to go into a ridiculous amount of debt or take on too many investors or anything like that.
“We started off really small with the idea of building the brand and the identify, and hopefully being able to expand down the track.
“We haven’t spent a ridiculous amount of money but yeah, it’s certainly something we are managing.”
Located in Delacombe, Ballarat, House of Malt is a very small malthouse producing 500-kilogram batches. Graham told Brews News that he has chosen to combine the older technique of floor malting in conjunction with more modern steeping and kilning technology.
“One of the reasons I decided to go with floor malting was because floor-malted Maris Otter malt is available from some malt suppliers and it seems to be held as a bit of a premium.
“Some brewers see it as being superior to other malts and so it attracts that premium price.
“So, I wanted to fit into that kind of area as well as with that ethos of having something that’s more hand crafted than some of the more industrialised malts from the bigger companies.
“The other part of the reason is to save a little bit of money on the construction as well because a floor-malting bed is much cheaper that building a drum or a box with turners in it.”
A more labor-intensive process, Graham said that his one-man-show is certainly keeping him fit.
Floor malting does delay the three-step malting process, from steeping, to germination to kilning. However, Graham said that all up, his process only takes an extra day compared with regular matling.
House of Malt currently sources all of its barley from a small farm in Rupanyup, about two hours away from Ballarat.
Graham is currently producing Australian Ale, Munich, Amber, Aromatic and Light Crystal malts, with wheat and toasted malts soon to come. With plans to expand his portfolio down the track, Graham said that he will need to invest in some more specialised equipment.
“I want to look at doing roasted malts and smoked malts but I need some extra bit of equipment so it will be a little while until I go down the path of doing those kind of things.
“I wouldn’t mind doing a rye malt as well but rye is a little harder to get a hold of.
Graham said that he will explore other grains like oats but confirmed that he won’t be going down the gluten-free road because his system won’t be able to properly process gluten-free grains.
House of Malt is located at 12/422 Sutton Street, Delacombe Victoria 3356.