Just before Bighorn barley growers starting harvesting this year’s crop last month, a group of brewers traveled to the region for a two-day workshop that included tours of the irrigation projects, growers fields and Briess Wyoming Barley Operations. Special thanks to this exceptional group for taking time from their busy schedules to join us. It’s exciting to see first-hand barley that’s ready to be harvested, tested and tucked into storage while waiting its turn to become malt for your next craft brew.

Here are a few pictures from the event. In case you weren’t aware, Briess purchased the Ralston Elevator (near Cody) in 2013. It’s an impressive operation, with a state-of-the-art elevator, storage and rail service directly to our barley operations and malthouse in Manitowoc, WI. The acquisition immediately connected us…and our customers…with hundreds of exceptionally experienced barley growers who grow premium quality crops. Our staff out there is top notch, too!

If you’re interested in taking the Briess Bighorn Barley Tour next year in July contact your Briess Division Manager – it’s not too soon to start planning. Cheers!

We started with short presentations about the region. The setting was perfect…a meeting room appropriately attired in “Wild West” gear.
Snowmelt in the mountains surrounding the Bighorn Basin is captured by the 350-foot-tall Buffalo Bill Dam in a huge reservoir. This was the largest dam in the U.S. prior to the Hoover Dam being built.  It’s gravity fed down the mountain to the basin, where it flood irrigates barley and other crops.
This large wooden ball previously was used to release water from the reservoir (like a drain plug). Great place for a group photo!
After touring the irrigation projects, the next step was at the Briess elevator facility in Ralston. The storage bins in the background have capacity to store 5.8 million bushels of barley.
Barley from each truckload received at Ralston is tested in the lab. Here, our visitors take turns inspecting the barley to see if it meets physical specifications.
Standing on the truck scale in front of the lab you can see the route trucks take to dump stations after their barley is accepted.
After visiting the Briess seed plant in nearby Powell, the group finished the day at the University of Wyoming Research Center in Powell. There, agronomist Andi Pierson discusses the various plots of barley which is being researched as a possible new variety.
On day two, our group visited a number of growers. Here, Dennis Reed fields questions about the irrigation project, growing barley and operating a ranch in the Bighorn Basin.
Getting a hands-on lesson from grower Josh Christofferson on how to manually start siphoning water from the canal into the field – not as easy as you might think! In the field, the water flows down a rut (corrugation) where it soaks the water and roots but doesn’t hit the canopy. That’s one of the reason barley grown in this arid region is so bright and plump.
One last stop at another ranch before calling it a day.
Thanks for visiting our Wyoming barley operations. Cheers!