Craft malthouses, like many other small businesses across the country, are taking a huge hit right now, thanks to coronavirus shutdowns and restrictions. Local distilleries are producing hand sanitizer instead of spirits right now and breweries are slowing production while taprooms are closed, which is trickling down to the rest of the supply chain, including malthouses. A recent survey conducted by the Craft Maltsters Guild found that 88 percent of craft maltsters are experiencing reduced sales because of the virus.

Some good news: You can help support Colorado’s craft malthouses by ordering your to-go beers from breweries that are members of the Craft Malt Certified Seal program, an initiative run by the North American Craft Maltsters Guild to encourage the use of local raw materials, especially malt. The seal program began in September 2019 and has quickly grown to include 37 participants across the country (31 breweries and six distilleries), including Woods Boss Brewing Company.  

Jordan Fink and Chad Moore opened Woods Boss in Five Points two years ago. From the start, they wanted to work with as many Colorado businesses as possible, going to locals for the yeast they use for fermentation and the crowlers guests took home from their taproom. That same motivation extended to malt, the processed grains—typically barley—that provide fermentable sugars during the brewing process. The duo began working with Root Shoot Malting, run by fifth-generation farmers in Loveland, and quickly fell in love with their locally grown and malted barley. Today, a majority of Wood Boss’ base grain comes from Root Shoot. “It was a no-brainer for us,” says Fink. “Their malt is fantastic.”

Woods Boss now proudly displays a special “Craft Malt Certified Brewery” plaque in its taproom, where the business offers curbside beer pickups during the coronavirus shutdown

Root Shoot Malting in Loveland. Photo courtesy of the Brewtography Project

As craft beer has grown over the last decade, so too has craft malt. Colorado is now home to a handful of craft malthouses, many of which opened within the last five years in response to growing demand from brewers and distillers for locally malted grains. “The big driver for craft malt is the interest among brewers in wanting to get as local as possible for their supply chain,” says Jesse Bussard, executive director for the North American Craft Maltsters Guild. “They’re sourcing from local growers and producers and that’s where craft malt really shines.”

Historically, brewers and distillers have sourced malted grains from large, international corporations. This practice continues today, but more and more breweries and distilleries are turning to craft maltsters whenever possible. Not only does shopping locally help those producers reduce their carbon footprint, but it also means that they have increased access to custom or experimental malts, all while supporting local farmers. “It’s been really exciting to also go out to the barley fields and see the malthouse and see how it’s actually made,” says David Lin, founder of Comrade Brewing, a member of the Craft Malt Certified Seal program. (While on-premise service is shut down at Comrade right now, the brewery is offering takeaway crowlers and growler fills, as well as home delivery.) 

Who is eligible for seal certification? Interested breweries and distilleries must be a member of the North American Craft Maltsters Guild; work with a member malthouse to initiate the seal process; and purchase at least 10 percent of their malt from a member malthouse. Individual beers and spirits can also be certified.  

If you want to support Colorado’s maltsters and breweries, consider beer from these producers, all members of the Craft Malt Certified Seal program and all offering beer to-go for pick up or delivery during the coronavirus shutdown:

Sarah Kuta
Sarah Kuta
Sarah Kuta is Colorado-based writer and editor. She writes about travel, lifestyle, food and beverage, fitness, education and anything with a great story behind it.