On Thursday, June 18, we held an open house for our Manitowoc Operation and facilities for City Officials and the Chamber of Commerce. The morning started with a presentation of the Briess malting process and barley vertical integration by Briess’ President, Gordon Lane. Briess has a long history of malting, since 1876, but it wasn’t until the 2013 Wyoming Barley Operation acquisition that allowed Briess to become vertically integrated.
With the Powell, WY Seed Plant we can process, certify and store 100,000 bushels which is then contract grown to our WY Barley Farmers. This gives us the ability to ensure quality by avoiding genetic drift, cross-contamination, and the risk of impure crops. In the spring we contract farmers to plant and harvest the barley. After the barley is harvested in the fall, it is transported to our storage facility in Manitowoc, WI.
Manitowoc is a 4.2 million bushel storage, cleaning, and grading facility and central hub spot. This facility also provides Briess with a local advantage for shipping to the Chilton and Warterloo, WI malthouses for processing. January 2015, Malthouse 6 was recommissioned at the Manitowoc Operation and began kilning several varieties of Briess’ already signature malts.
With the history and malting process presentation wrapped up, it was time to explore the Manitowoc Operation. The group of about 25 city officials and chamber members broke up into smaller groups of five and six. We started in the grain elevator, which is 12 stories high and at the top offers magnificent views of Manitowoc and Lake Michigan; not to mention, the peregrine falcons that nest at the top. Going up the tower, we rode a small elevator, but then to descend the grain elevator, we scaled down a narrow spiral, graded staircase.
Each floor we worked down, we learned about the cleaning and grading process. When the raw barley comes to Manitowoc, it comes in by rail or truck and rocks and foreign particles must be cleaned removed. The barley is conveyed to the top of the elevator where gravity will aid it in moving it from floor to floor to each cleaning stage. The barley goes through several cleaning steps, beginning with a separating and screening process that will remove the stones, sticks, and other coarse and fine materials. From there, it moves on to aspirators which uses air to remove lighter impurities and dust. Once it has gone through the 12 stories of cleaning and grading processes and has been inspected for quality, the barley is ready to go to Malthouse 6, where the real fun begins.