Blue Ox Malthouse 2023 Year In Review: 10 Years Of Maine Malt; Expansion, Beer Collaborations & 2 Malt Cup Awards

2023 will go down as a historic year for Maine’s first malting operation, Blue Ox Malthouse. The company celebrated a decade in business this year, and broke ground on an expansion that will make it the largest floor malting operation in North America. Blue Ox is proud of its growing team and increasingly meaningful connections among Northeastern agricultural communities, and beyond. 

In March 2023, Blue Ox Malthouse was awarded two prestigious Malt Cup awards during MaltCon2023 in Portland, Maine. Blue Ox Floor Malted Pale and Floor Malted Light Munich malts earned bronze medals.

Also during the 2023 Craft Malt Conference, Novare Res Bier Cafe hosted an all craft malt tap takeover featuring several beers made with Blue Ox malt that the Beer Sessions podcast marks as one of the ‘best beer moments of the year’ in Episode No. 694

In addition to the Craft Malt Conference, Blue Ox participated in several events supporting Maine’s food systems, including Grain To Glass Freeport, the 2023 New England Beer Summit, and the National Barley Improvement Committee meeting.

In April 2023, Blue Ox Malthouse turned ten. Founder Joel Alex expressed his thoughts on a decade of Blue Ox malt on Instagram. ”What a wild ride. The last ten years seem like a blink of an eye, but if I think of how far we’ve come and moved the needle in connecting craft brewers to local ingredients and the impact on the farmer, I am really proud,” he adds. “It’s been a team effort and required the hard work of many people along the way–employees, customers, farmers, and community partners included.” 

Alex and team were thrilled to visit Porter Farms in Aroostook County and Crystal Springs Farm in Cumberland County, Maine during the 2023 harvest season. “We carefully select farm partners who steward the land with sustainable practices that make for the healthiest soil possible,” Alex says. “What starts at the seed supports the highest quality beer, spirits, and food products made with Blue Ox malt.” 

In the fall, Blue Ox began construction on a major malthouse expansion that will quadruple its production capacity. This growth will establish the malthouse as the largest dedicated floor malting facility on the continent; Not to mention, it will increase hiring capacity for staff of more diverse physical abilities and space and equipment to support a wider range of malt products, including roasted malts. 

The Blue Ox team is growing. This year, they were pleased to bring on Ian Goering as the malthouse’s Account Manager. Goering comes to the malthouse with 12+ years of experience in the New England brewing industry and with a diploma from the American Brewers Guild and experience at breweries in Maine and New Hampshire— most notably as Head Brewer at Tributary Brewing Company. He was most recently the head of production at Aprés. “He is an amazing knowledge resource for our customers,” says Alex. In total, Blue Ox Malthouse now has a team of six skilled malthouse professionals. 

2023 was a year of notable collaborations for Maine’s first malthouse. Maine breweries from across The Pine Tree State made collaboration beers featuring Blue Ox malt in support of the Maine Brewers Guild. In Delaware, Dogfish Head selected Blue Ox Vyenna Malt to create The Most Comfortable Logger In The Woods Vienna Lager with other Maine-grown ingredients, including wild blueberries, turmeric, ginger, and sage. 

Also in 2023, Blue Ox made the switch to entirely solar-generated power. The malthouse is proud to work with Perch Community Solar on this eco-friendly solution. 

Looking forward, Blue Ox is excited to build capacity to meet the growing demand for North American malt for craft breweries and distilleries. More details about the expansion will be announced in coming months. 

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