Worthy Reads: Inside a Czech Floor Malthouse by Jeff Alworth

Editor’s Note: This is the first in a new series of posts that will feature excellent beer or cider writing from around the web. These posts will highlight areas of interest that speak to what I love about the beer world and align with the sort of things I like to write about myself. The first edition is from Jeff Alworth, author of The Beer Bible and Cider Made Simple (both are worthy reads and in my library). In this piece, Jeff explores the old school method of floor malting in a Czech malt house. Please Enjoy!

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My post last week about barley breeding has led to a little flurry of activity on the subject, and I just finished an enlightening interview with Seth Klann of Mecca Grade Estate Malt. There will be more on that to come. But it connects back with one of my most important stops in Europe, and one I’ve never blogged about.

The Ferdinand Brewery in Benešov, south of Prague has been malting their own barley for over a hundred years, and the way they prepare the malt and the barleys they use look remarkably like the approach Americans are now trying to revive. Ferdinand is also the source of Weyermann’s Floor-Malted Bohemian Pilsner Malt, which is available here in the US (Patrick and I used it on a recent helles). I am working on a project I hope will become a book, and it revolves around that visit. If it seems a bit formal for my usual blogspeak, that’s why. By the way, the visit was made possible by Max Bahnson, the Pivni Filosof, who arranged the visit and translated for me. Thanks, Max!

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A few traditional malthouses still exist, mostly in the UK and Czech Republic. They take advantage of natural refrigeration—winter—and are tended with implements like the one David Mareš was dragging through a bed of barley. We were in the cellar of Pivovar Ferdinand in Benešov, 30 miles south of Prague in the Czech Republic. Barrel vaults ran lengthwise across the ceiling, supported by arches and columns painted safety yellow, exposing thousands of square feet of stone floor. The vast space was checkerboarded with (Continue the rest of the story at Jeff’s Blog: Beervana…)

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