Admiral Maltings Unites Craft Distillers and Brewers with Local Farmers

The San Francisco Bay Area is steeped in a storied history with premium barley. A top export from the 1860s – 1940s, barley was among one of the essential California commodities transported to the United Kingdom. With the recent surge of new craft breweries and distilleries throughout the state, renowned craft maltster Admiral Maltings is at the center of a California Liquid Gold Rush spotlighting specialty releases with ingredients that are distinctly Californian. In a matter of three years since the opening of Admiral Maltings (2017 – 2020), a new category of California single malt whiskeys are hitting the market featuring Admiral’s artisanal malt varieties contributing singular characteristics.

Valiant efforts by Admiral Maltings and the University of California, Davis have resuscitated the region as a preeminent source for exceptional barley, and its malted counterpart. UC Davis’ registration of Butta 12, as an official malting barley grown in the California Central Valley, signifies a trend towards modern, locally bred malting barley varieties. Dr. Lynn Gallagher, the plant-breeding scientist primarily responsible for developing Butta 12, is publishing his research that led to the release of Butta 12 in Wiley Publishing’s Journal of Plant Registration in the coming months.

Admiral’s resurrection of the uniquely California Atlas Heritage Barley draws on an older, heritage barley variety as evidence of the evolution of barley throughout the Sacramento Valley and south to North Los Angeles. In turn, local barley production embarks on a renaissance in the form of a viable land resource for California’s handcrafters of top tier libations.

For the first time in decades, craft distillers and brewers have unparalleled access to ingredients with idiosyncratic terroir for their singular products. Admiral Maltings proudly connects California’s acclaimed distillers/brewers with regional farms growing barley and other grains (wheat, rye, oats) for ingredients that are reflective of the land and Mediterranean sub-climates as well as pathways towards a more sustainable footprint.

With distinguished valleys and appellations defining California’s world-class wine industry, the state now boasts an emergence of California-style single malt whiskeys showcasing the finest of ingredients solely harvested within its borders. In addition to the newly emerging California-style single malt whiskeys, California distillers are further finding a myriad of ways to employ locally grown and malted grain into their creations. The onsite pub The Rake at Admiral Maltings debuts for the first time in modern California history eight exclusive whiskeys from local distillers using Admiral malts, including: Pekut & Carwick’s “Maiden Voyage,” Seven Stills’s “Eau de Oyster,” 117° West’s “California Single Malt,” 117° West’s “Yolo Gold,” 117° West’s “West Coast Whiskey,” Workhorse Rye’s “Virgin Cask V3,” Golden Gate Whisky’s “Golden Gate Whisky,” and Golden Gate Whisky’s “Mizunara Single Cask.”

Admiral Maltings provides artisanal malts to almost 300 breweries and over 30 distilleries. One might say that Admiral Maltings is doing something old, something new with things that are old and new.

Sierra Nevada Brewing is certainly one of the first, if not the first major modern brewery to brew an all California beer – its Estate Series. For many years now, Sierra Nevada’s CCOF organic Estate Ale has been brewed with hops and barley grown on its estate in Chico, California. For this year’s harvest, Sierra Nevada focused on growing the newer malting varieties developed at UC Davis, Butta 12 and Tahoe. In turn, this has led to an outstanding harvest of over 60,000 lbs. of malting barley, which Admiral Maltings will floor malt for Sierra Nevada’s Estate Ale.

Seismic Brewing Company (Santa Rosa, CA) collaborates with Admiral for a 100% California grown, malted, and brewed beer: Tremor California Light Lager (4.2% ABV). With a dedication to crafting high-quality beers in an environmentally sustainable manner, Seismic is among an uptick of breweries leading a new way of brewing with all state-grown ingredients for a truly California tasting experience. Tremor California is crisp and refreshing with Admiral’s Pilsner Malt giving it tremendous body and a clean, balanced malt flavor. The first official California Light Lager, the effervescent lager is made exclusively with organic West Coast hops and 100% local organic barley.

East Brother Beer (Richmond, CA) brings back an American Lager style with the use of a landrace, heritage California variety of 6-row barley. The brewery’s Pre-Pro Lager harkens to the old, pre-prohibition days using an heirloom, California-grown and malted Atlas barley. Atlas barley was the foundation of the California malt and brewing industry for the first half of the 20th century. The Spanish originally brought the barley over from Morocco where it got its name from the Atlas Mountains. Dry-farmed for decades near Paso Robles, Admiral malted five tons of Atlas barley especially for East Brother’s Pre-Prohibition Lager.

Adjacent to Admiral Malting’s germination floor sits a pub unlike any other in the world at The Rake. With its intimate view of the floor malting process in action, Admiral offers a dynamic beer list (20 taps) including Seismic Brewing’s Tremor California Light Lager and East Brothers’ Pre-Prohibition Lager, as well as the eight brand new California whiskeys. The Rake is a mecca for beer and spirits geeks with its constant rotation of freshly brewed beers and exquisitely distilled whiskeys made with Admiral malt. San Francisco Chronicle put The Rake on its shortlist of “The Bay Area’s Best New Places to Drink” in 2018.

Admiral Maltings is hard at work trendsetting the local malt movement throughout California with their eye on the prize to encourage craft brewers/distillers in all corners of the country to embrace locally sourced, high quality, and eco-friendly ingredients.

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