Norfolk maltings invests £6.7m as craft beer bubble shows no sign of bursting
- Credit: Archant
The craft brewing boom has prompted a Norfolk maltster to invest £6.7m in its ability to make small batch deliveries of specialist grain.
Crisp Malting Group, based at Great Ryburgh, near Fakenham, unveiled a £3.5m automated milling, cleaning and packing line, as well as a £3.2m speciality malt plant, during an industry open day.
About 65 brewers and distillers from around the country were shown the new facilities and taken to see fields of this year's Norfolk malting barley crop – famed throughout the world for its beer-making quality.
After malting, the grain will be crushed, cleaned and bagged into 25kg bags on the new automated line at a rate of 20 tonnes per hour – almost three times faster than when the bags were manually filled and stitched.
Managing director Adrian Dyter said while international breweries wanted large bulk deliveries, the ability to deliver a mixed pallet of small bags of various malts was vital to the burgeoning number of small and start-up businesses.
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The packing line also includes an improved mill for crushing the malt – something which larger breweries will be able to do themselves in-house, but smaller start-ups won't be able to afford the equipment for.
'This whole installation is geared up for the craft movement,' he said. 'Consumers are increasingly wanting more variety and they want to know about the provenance of the ingredients being used to make the products they consume. It is a growing trend and we clearly see that trend continuing.'
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Meanwhile, Mr Dyter said the speciality malt plant is the first one to be built on a commercial scale in the UK. The malt is roasted inside two vibrating spiral towers, with the level of heat controlling the darkness of the malt.
'It is a new way of making higher-colour malt products,' he said. 'These are often used in small amounts in order to produce a darker colour, and add extra flavour and body to particular styles of beer.
'The traditional method was to use a coffee roasting drum, and that worked quite well, but it was really hard to get the consistency of product that we wanted. Now we have more control, and we can produce a much more consistent product.
'We can also use different cereals. Most of our products are made from barley, but now we can also use wheat, oats and rye.'
Mr Dyter said the boom in craft brewing has seen the number of UK breweries increase by 64pc in the last five years, according to figures from accountancy firm UHY Hacker Young.
Visitors to the event – who came from as far afield as Scotland, Northern Ireland, Manchester and Dorset – were told that Crisp Malting Group now produces 260,000 tonnes of malt, which is 16pc of British production. Its Great Ryburgh site has a capacity of 115,000 tonnes, which would need 28,500 football pitches of barley to fill it.