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Inside Able Seedhouse + Brewery's malthouse

Able works with Minnesota farmers in order to do some malting in-house.

MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota — As Able Seedhouse + Brewery enters its fourth year in northeast Minneapolis, it continues to grow its small malthouse.

"It was always the interest of us from the very beginning of this thing to try and figure out if we could work in-house with the Minnesota small grains to make beer," Casey Holley said. Holley is one of the founders of Able—a brewery, taproom and small malthouse.

They work with Minnesota grain farmers in order to do some of the malting in-house.

"Malting is taking a raw material, in this case small Minnesota grains, and malting it or converting the starches in the grain into sugar and we do that through the malting process," Holley explained. 

Credit: Heidi Wigdahl
Casey Holley during the malting process in Able's seedhouse.

While Holley said it's easy to explain the malting process in three words—steep, germinate, kiln—it takes a lot of time and it's one of the reasons why many brewers don't malt their own grains. Holley said it takes about eight to nine days to get a couple hundred pounds of malt. 

"I would say since the sixties or so, it's fairly unique for certainly a craft brewery to build up that supply chain of small grains and malt it in-house," Holley said. 

Many breweries and taprooms order their malt online and have it delivered in bags. Able does that too. But a small percentage is made with Able's own malt. So far, they've made five production beers with their own malt. 

"We were really nervous entering into this," Holley said. "We think this is really cool and so let's try to do this thing but is anybody else going to give a damn if we do this? Does it matter? And we kept coming back to this idea... well it matters to us so let's focus on that first."

Credit: Heidi Wigdahl
Once this grain goes through the malting process, the malt will be used for one of Able's limited release beers.

Wednesday morning, Holley was steeping some grain for the second day. Once it goes through the whole malting process, the malt will be used for one of Able's limited release beers. Breweries, distilleries and small food companies have also been interested in Able's malt.  

"Our hope is that we continue to grow the percentage of grain that we're able to use in our beers. We start pretty small and we're continuing to grow that percentage," Holley said. 

Able currently has one beer available that uses its own malt called Grim Arcana, a double brown ale. 

Able has also announced its newest core beer, an unfiltered IPA called Better Selves. It doesn't use Holley's malt but it's designed to be able to incorporate it at some point. 

There is a release party for Better Selves on March 29, starting at 6 p.m. at Able Seedhouse + Brewery.  

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