Tuesday, July 31, 2012

About Barley: The Elevator and Requirements

We raise Malting Barley on contract for Anheuser Busch. As barley growers, we have hauled our barley to one of their nearby elevators. I took you Inside the Castle when we hauled barley last September. AdFarm raised barley on acres in GriggsDakota and they brought a busload of employees to tour the Busch West Fargo Elevator. I found this elevator to be The Palace. Even bigger and more impressive than the Castle.
We were met by Al and Tony who had the task of explaining the barley business, from elevator to beer, to AdFarm employees on the tour. 
Al began by reminding everyone that barley is critical to beer. Farmers raise barley and without it there is no beer.
 Tony explained the specifications that are used in grading barley. 
Malting barley standards include a long list:  First, it must be an approved variety of barley. Anheuser Busch has a list of barley varieties and the lot or load must be purely one variety. It should be free from disease and mold and cannot contain sprouted seeds. It must be free of insects, free from desiccants, light colored, plump, 13.5% moisture or less, never dried in a grain dryer, low protein, uniformly plump with less than 5% damaged kernels... and the list goes on.
Why are the specifications so numerous? Because Barley must sprout in the malting process. It must be live seed when it arrives from the elevator to the malting plant. 
All barley is not equal, so different varieties and qualities are kept separated in bins.
If it is a poor growing season for barley, there are some cleaning and rinsing processes that can be added to the malting process to improve the quality of the barley and hence, maintain the flavor of the beer. 
Above is a grain cleaner in the elevator. Rinsing would take place in the malting plant.
 That adds to the cost of the malting process and the cost of the beer.
Keeping the elevator clean and organized is a continual process. 
 As we toured the elevator, we were reminded that safety is of the utmost importance.
We went outside to take a look at the railroad tracks that carry boxcars of barley. 
Everything seems gigantic to me. A woman of the Great Plains, anything up in the air makes my palms sweat.
 I noticed the yellow structure above the tracks.
The Fall Protection Systems allow workers to wear a harness attachment when they work on the rail cars. It enhances safety and I feel better. 
 The attached line will not allow a worker to fall to the ground.
Still, elevator work is not for the faint of heart. 
 Al stands on the grate where the Barley is dumped.
There is a whole world beneath the floor. 
Some of today's touring guests had never been inside an elevator. Understanding the process of raising barley from the farm to the elevator and then on to the malting plant, is the goal of the AdFarm 2012 Farmers in GriggsDakota.

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