A few weeks ago several the club took a tour of the Joe White Maltings facility in Ballarat.
Pete, Scott, H and I were joined by Rachel, Leigh (from the Odyssey Real Beer Club) and Damien were shown the ropes by Drew, the facility manager.
We learned that despite the facility being huge, that it was dwarfed by the other malting facilities. The Ballarat plant mainly deals with specialty malts while the other facilities deal with the production of the base malts.
The tour started at the loading dock and proceeded to follow the system from start to finish.
From the dock the grains make their way to the steeping pit where they are soaked and turned over many days until germination begins.
During this time the enzymes are produced that convert the inner components of the grain. One of the changes that occurs is the grain’s starch reserves are made accessible for further modification.
At this point germination is halted by heating and drying the grains. This preserves the grains (and their starchy insides).
When dried the grains make their way to the roasters. There were very noisy pieces of machinery, but luckily we were able to file into a nearby office where Drew explained to us that the roasters are used to caramelise and toast the grains to various extents as required by their clients.
The more the malt was toasted, the more burnt and coffee-like the flavour became.
We had some question time with Drew where we learned some of the basics of the business side including the reach of their distribution; all the way from Ballarat to South East Asia.
After seeing what goes into making the product that is sent to the brewers we decided that it would be a great idea to sample some of the goods that are sent from the brewers. The word on the street in Ballarat is if you want the best craft beer, you head to The Mallow Hotel.
At the Mallow we had a good selection of craft beers available *and even an odd barley wine or two). The food was a real highlight. The beef burger was amazing and just the thing (along with a tasty pint) to cap off a great day.
Thanks again to Drew from Joe White Maltings (who was generously donated a bag of grain to the club) for coming into work on your day off to show us around.