This artist’s drawing of the original Briess Czechoslovakian Malthouse was on the company’s letterhead in the late 1800s.

This year Briess Malt & Ingredients Co. is celebrating a very special event — its 140th anniversary! We hope you join us in raising a pint in celebration. In fact, make it two pints — one for 140 years of family ownership and another for 140 years of malting tradition that’s spanned five generations, survived two world wars, and found success on two continents.

First, congratulations to the Briess family! The five-generation Briess family malting tradition began in 1876 with Ignatius Briess and continued with second-generation Rudolph, third-generation Eric, fourth-generation Roger and continues today with Monica Briess and sons Craig and Colin. The dedication and professionalism these owners bring to this business and the brewers, distillers, and food professionals we serve are inspiring and energizing.

Second, how do we plan on celebrating? Staying true to what we do best, we’ll be rolling out a new specialty malt at the 2016 Craft Brewers Conference in Philadelphia. We plan on featuring it in a special CBC beer served at the Briess-YCHHops Beer Station. Stay tuned.

Monica Briess and Craig Briess recently accepted the Karl Strauss Achievement Award from the Museum of Beer and Brewing. The five-generation Briess family was recognized for outstanding service to the art and science of brewing.
Remnants of the original Briess Malthouse. Note the same smokestack in this picture and on the drawing above.

What a difference 4,559 miles makes
Throughout its history, the Briess family malting business found success by changing with the times. Did you know that the business was originally established in Czechoslovakia as an exporter of base malt? Today Briess Malt & Ingredients Co. is a well-known North American producer of specialty malts and natural ingredients for U.S. Craft Beer and the U.S. Food and Beverage Industries. Despite being 4,559 miles and 140 years apart, the original and current businesses draw several striking parallels:

1876 — High quality barley procurement program

  • The original Briess family malting operation was started in the Moravian region of Czechoslovakia. Why? Local grain trader Ignatius Briess recognized that some of the highest quality malting barley in the world was being grown literally under his feet. Rather than trade it, he started a malting company. The vertical integration of procuring Moravian malting barley directly from local growers gave him complete quality control of the malt he produced. Ignatius and his son Rudolph quickly gained worldwide recognition for exporting high quality Briess Moravian Malt to large breweries throughout the world.

Today — High quality barley procurement program

  • A number of years ago company officials and the Briess family recognized the need to secure a consistent supply of high quality malting barley, due to the changing global barley market. Almost three years ago that came to fruition with the acquisition of barley operations in the semi-arid Big Horn region of North Wyoming and Southern Montana. The region and a large network of experienced malting barley growers is known for producing some of the brightest, highest quality malting barley in North America and the world. And the vertical integration gives Briess complete quality control of the malt we produce.

1876 — Introduces Maltoferm® to the baking industry 

  • In the late 1800s Rudolf Briess eyed up another potential market — the baking industry. Understanding the functional contributions of diastatic malt to yeast-raised dough, he began producing a diastatic malt flour, branded it Maltoferm® and began selling it to bakeries throughout the region.
A Maltoferm® ad from the early 1900s.

Today — Maltoferm® becomes a registered trademark

  • About 90 years later, Roger Briess resurrected the Maltoferm® brand in the United States, this time as food-grade malt extract mainly for the baking industry. On March 31, 1981, Maltoferm® became a Briess registered trademark in the United States, and our line of light- to dark-colored malt extracts have become a popular natural ingredient for bakery and other food products.

And the rest is history…

The 140-year-history of the Briess malting tradition is peppered with some great wow factors. Throughout the year we’ll be sharing some of them here, focusing especially on events that occurred after Roger Briess embraced the nascent American Craft Beer revolution in the 1970s. His passion for malting and brewing, and his belief in and dedication to American Craft beer, led him to makeover the family business from an export company to a specialty malt producer. And the rest, of course, is history.