This past July, AURI and its client, Vertical Malt, hosted a Craft Brew Field Day in Crookston, MN, that brought together groups from throughout the craft brewing industry, from farmers to brewers. AURI saw it as an opportunity to highlight the successes of the project and the business itself, as well as offer an educational component for a targeted sector of the craft brewing industry, including partners, stakeholders, and local malting leaders. “The event was an excellent opportunity for AURI to create awareness of a new business in the region and related facilities and research while promoting and educating on AURI’s services,” said AURI Project Manager Becky Philipp.
The new businesses, facilities and research centers included the AgriMax seed cleaning facility and the University of Minnesota’s Barley Variety plot in Crookston, MN.
Participants agreed that the highlight of this first-time event was its all-around educational focus. It provided the opportunity to network with a cross-section of the craft brewing industry and helped entrepreneurs and business owners build new relationships and increase their networks. This was mostly thanks to the event format, which covered services to the industry and new applied research. The program also included a presentation of great interest to attendees on the current state of the industry as well as the evolution and history of barley production and brewing. This tied in to current barley varieties and new variety research in the field, as well as how barley is processed and cleaned.
Attendees to the full day event enjoyed a variety of presentations that shared new information available to the industry. These included
- The new barley varieties nearing release and the research process and testing
conducted prior to release.
- New seed cleaning equipment utilized by Agrimax and its seed cleaning services.
- Vertical Malt’s new roasters and its facility.
- Outcomes of the AURI Hops Initiative.
One of the most interesting trends discussed was that of craft breweries’ taking a larger share of available barley production. According to Robert Rynning of the Minnesota Barley Research and Promotion Council Board, craft malt usage is 3.4 times the amount of malt used by volume brewers. However, even though the number of craft breweries in the United States has doubled over the past five years it doesn’t appear to be spurring more barley production as barley acres are projected to stay in a range of two to three million acres in the United States.
What does the future hold?
AURI staff and partners at Vertical Malt are passionate about building upon the event and making it a regular offering, though the format for future events is still being determined. Currently discussions are underway to host next year’s field day with Vertical Malt and possibly another contributor along the supply or innovation chain. “A lot of good ideas are percolating for the short and long-term, so we’ll just have to wait and see what surfaces,” said Philipp. “It provides a great opportunity for the craft brewers to network with each other, which I heard they don’t get a lot of opportunities to do within their regions, and with other folks in the industry. Events like this have the potential for building long-term, mutually beneficial business relationships.”
To learn more about current AURI events, and receive alerts for future events, sign up for the monthly e-newsletter, Ag Innovation Update, at auri.org.