One of the New Drum Roasters in Manitowoc

It seems like just yesterday we began expanding our roasting capacity by building a new roast house and installing the first malt roaster at our Manitowoc facility. That piece of equipment gave us roasting capability at all of our malting locations. The new machine was the first of its kind for a malting operation, the largest batch roaster manufactured. The original K-ball roasters installed at the Chilton Malthouse in the 1950s churned out 600 lbs. every batch, while this new machine produces many times that with every cycle. The new design offers a variety of additional controls, updated software, energy efficiency, and additional components that allow us to improve our product quality and consistency while reducing the energy required per pound of malt produced. 

Color Formation in Roasted Wheat

That first roaster in Manitowoc didn’t stand alone for long. Additional roasting capacity was added shortly thereafter to meet growing customer demand.

New machines come with new challenges. Being the first malting company to use this new style roaster in production requires a fair amount of innovation and patience. The roasting team observes and adapts our long-standing recipes to ensure the grain is experiencing the same production conditions as when they were designed. We had to validate that the unique specialty malts made on the new machines matched those being made at our other facilities. It’s not enough for the products to match analytically, they must match sensory and functional characteristics as well. That process includes numerous sensory sessions and evaluations every time we reproduce a product. To date we have been able to duplicate every product in our portfolio, giving us increased flexibility for production at multiple facilities.  

Left Shows Barley Hydration; Right Shows Conversion from Starch to Crystalized Sugar after Roasting

The roasting equipment includes new measurements and data logging that any scientist would appreciate! This data allows us to create and analyze the unique roasting profile for each batch and create expectations for the timing of heat application and drying to increase consistency between batches. This provides our team of experienced roasting operators the information they need to duplicate batch after batch of specialty roasted malt even when there are variations in the raw material. Every day the operators use these machines to produce some of the most unique and high-quality specialty malts available. 

It’s an exciting time to be roasting in Manitowoc!