After the tour group had explored all the stories of the grain elevator and the cleaning and grading process, we headed to Malthouse 6 to learn about the malting process and tour the pristine malting facilities the Briess Manitowoc Operation has to offer.
We entered into a massive room, with steeping tanks towering over us. There are a dozen tanks on each side of the room that reach almost to the ceiling and are two stories high. The room is warm, and the temperature is kept consistent throughout the steeping process. As we ascend up a staircase we can peer into each batch of bubbling water filed with millions of barley kernels. During steeping water is absorbed by the raw barley kernel and germination begins. For the next 40-48 hours the raw barley alternates between submerged and drained states until it increases in moisture content from about 12% to about 44%.
We move from the steeping room through a maze of stairs and are brought into a doubled door airlock compartment before entering into the germination room. The room is, again, massive in size, with several bins running the entire length of the building. Each bin is at a different stage of the germination process. Germination actually already began in the steep tank, and now continues in the compartment where the barley kernel undergoes modification. Modification refers to the enzymatic break down of the protein and carbohydrates, and the resulting opening up of the seeds’ starch reserves. Good modification requires the barley to remain in the compartment for 4-5 days and is controlled by drawing temperature-adjusted, humidified air through the bed. There are also turners that keep the bed from compacting and rootlets from growing together, or felting.
At this point the, the tour guides pull a handful of barley from each bin to show the guests the different stages of the germination process. It became a hands-on opportunity to touch, smell, and discover the barley’s breakdown in each stage. After having an in-depth look at the germination process it was onto the drying kilns.
Through another maze of stairs and doorways, we enter into the drying kiln. The bins are being filled with barley from the germination bins we just explored and is pouring in from the ceiling above. The drying is moisture and temperature related; as the moisture drops, the kernel temperature is increased. Different styles and flavors of malt will be kiln dried at different temperatures and duration of times. The varying the moisture level and time and temperature of drying develops the flavor and color characteristics of each specialty malt. Kiln dried specialty malts include: Pilsen (1.2°L), Brewers (1.8°L), Goldpils® Vienna (3.5°L), Pale Ale (3.5°L), Ashburne® Mild (5.3°L), Bonlander® Munich (10°L), and Aromatic Munich (20°L).
The drying kiln concluded our tour of the Manitowoc Operation and malting process. It was a pleasure inviting the Manitowoc City Officials and Chamber of Commerce to our facilities. We followed up our city officials open house with an employee open house through the Manitowoc Operation on Saturday June 20. The Briess employees loved exploring the new operation, with nearly 100 attendees of Briess employees and guests.