Troubadour Maltings doesn’t supply huge quantities of malted barley to Colorado’s craft breweries, but the grain it does provide them still makes a big difference. Take Oskar Blues, for example, which sells a Mexican-style lager called Beerito in all fifty states and overseas. While the state’s second-largest craft brewery uses thousands of pounds of base malt for Beerito, in relies on smaller quantities of Blue Ballad, a specially malted Munich-style grain from Troubadour, to give the beer a lightlynuanced almond note.
While hops often take top billing in craft beers, Troubadour wants people to understand how much of a difference the barley can make when it comes to flavor, color, even head retention. One of just a few “craft maltsters” that have started up in the past few years in Colorado, Troubadour is part of a growing number of small companies that are supplying beer ingredients to breweries nationwide.
To highlight that fact and the deep connection that craft breweries have with some suppliers, Troubadour, located in Fort Collins, and TRVE Brewing have put together a series of beer tappings called the Sown Project this month at seven breweries.
“We are working with smaller breweries who wouldn’t normally have access to the malt house or the growers when they buy barley and getting them fully engaged at every level of the supply chain,” explains Troubadour co-founder Chris Schooley. “From there, we are literally sowing the seeds with consumers and explaining why they should care about where the raw materials come from as well.”
The idea for the project came from TRVE head brewer Zach Coleman, who makes a point of buying malt, hops, yeast, fruit and other ingredients from Colorado suppliers on a regular basis. “As I talked with various farmers in the state, I realized how important it was for them to work directly with brewers,” he writes. “These relationships open the door for fair pay and for a wider range of options. It allows everyone to be directly involved and, even as small breweries/brewers, to have agency and a voice as we grow.”
On Saturday, May 6, TRVE will tap its Sown beer, a dry-hopped saison fermented in wooden puncheons. To brew it, Coleman used Pevec Barley and White Wheat from Troubadour, CTZ, Cascade and Crystal hops from High Wire Hops in Paonia, and a saison yeast blend supplied by Denver’s Inland Island yeast company.
The other six beers, which will be tapped on various days in May, come from Our Mutual Friend, Comrade, Cerebral Brewing and Call to Arms, all in Denver, along with Berthoud Brewing in Berthoud and Horse & Dragon Brewing in Fort Collins.
“Zach wanted to do something to get other breweries excited about this, but he wanted it to be less of a festival and more of something that would get people into taprooms,” Schooley says. “We’ve gotten a lot of interest, and we are now hoping to have a quarterly event, rotating in different breweries.”
Schooley and Troubadour co-founder Steve Clark realized a few years ago that most of the pieces were in place in Colorado for a home-grown malting industry. There were already barley breeding companies and plenty of experienced farmers growing barley for Coors and other companies. Troubadour now works with five barley growers and one wheat grower. Schooley and Clark have worked with forty craft breweries — 25 on a regular basis — and are hoping to move more than 200,000 pounds of barley in 2017.
One of the ways Schooley wants local maltsters to be able to connect with consumers is by giving his malts specific names rather than the generic ones that been have used for so long. So, for instance, Troubadour’s English-style pale malt is called Serenade, while its Czech-style pils malt is called Pevec.
Base 2-Row and Munich aren’t evocative and don’t stay with people,” he says. “We want the names to connect with people so that they know what they are contributing to the beer, just like hops. We want to try to help build that narrative that way.”
Here's a list of the other breweries and beers that are part of the Sown Project:
Our Mutual Friend Brewing Company
2810 Larimer Street
OMF's beer is a Colorado cedar porter with Troubadour Maltings Serenade and Encore; Colorado Malting Company White Wheat, Belgian Chocolate and Crystal 60; and Root Shoot Malting OMF Roasted Raw Barley and OMF Roasted Brown Malt. Hopped with Colorado Nugget. Fermented with 001 from Inland Island Yeast Laboratories. Colorado cedar wood chips were added to the beer during the mash and after fermentation.
7667 East Iliff Avenue
Comrade is contributing a single-hop beer with Metcalfe Pale from Root Shoot Malting in Loveland, Cascade hops from High Wire Hops, and yeast from Brewing Science Institute in Woodland Park.
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1477 Monroe Street
Cerebral's beer is an open-fermented saison with Troubadour Maltings Pevec, Antero White Wheat, Raw Wheat and Ballad. It's hopped with Crystal hops from High Wire Hops and an Inland Island Yeast Laboratories saison strain.
Call to Arms Brewing Company
4526 Tennyson Street
SMuSH (Single Malt und Single Hop) is a beer brewed with Troubadour Maltings Serenade, High Wire Hops Cascade for the hops and Inland Island Yeast Laboratories 006 yeast.
Berthoud Brewing Co.
450 Eighth Street, Berthoud
This one's a cherry wheat ale brewed with Troubadour Maltings Pevec, Antero White Winter Wheat, and Chorus malt. Eccentric Ale yeast from Inland Island Yeast Laboratories is added, and the beer is hopped with Crystal hops from High Wire Hops. For fruit, BBC uses Balaton cherries procured from Scofield Farms in Loveland.
Horse & Dragon Brewing Company and Soul Squared Brewing Company
124 Racquette Drive, Fort Collins
This collaborative Purple Ale is brewed with Troubadour Maltings Serenade, Purple Egyptian Barley malted by Troubadour Maltings and sourced from McKay Seed Co in Rosalia, Washington, and a raw Purple barley addition. Crystal, Chinook, Cascade, and Willamette hops from Colorado Hop Company are added, and the beer is fermented with Horse & Dragon's house ale yeast strain.