Signature Malt ‘closest thing we have to a vintage’
Brewers are calling this year’s Joe White Signature Malt “the closest thing brewers can get to having a ‘vintage’” with praise for its traceability and consistency.
Supplied by Bintani Australia, the 2020 Joe White Signature Malt is sourced from a grower in Tungamah, a small farming community in the Central Murray region of Northern Victoria.
An especially high-quality crop of malting-grade barley was selected, focusing on colour, flavour, yield and extraction potential. Tungamah Baudin barley was selected out of 9 eligible parcels, based on 32 parameters and confirmed in triple micromaltings.
Two brewers who have already brewed beers using the Joe White Signature Malt are Bevy Brewing’s Andy Scade and Ashur Hall, head brewer at Stomping Ground in Melbourne.
Hall said he liked the idea of a single-origin malt.
“I am quite open to the difference in flavour achieved from malt grown in different areas,” he said. If it is possible to achieve consistency of quality in our beers then I’m keen to try different malt each year.
“It’s the closest thing brewers can get to having a “vintage” I guess.”
Hall also explained that growing up in the northern tablelands of NSW made him more sensitive to the plight of farmers after drought and COVID-19.
“I’m conscious of the effect of drought, whether regional or national,” he said.
“Given Australia has a large area over which we grow malting barley we can select the best areas and highlight the region at the same time.
“I’d like to be able to support all Aussie barley areas at some point or other and keep Aussie farmers growing malt grade.”
Single source Baudin barley
Liam Moltoni, Malt Barley Merchant at Boortmalt, said this year’s Signature malt was made from a barley type called Baudin.
“It’s an older variety known as Baudin, which is a typical favourite of the malt house,” he said.
“It’s a less grown variety by the growers, it was switched out for high-yielding varieties such as Spartacus and Compass, so this year when we found a parcel of Baudin we were pretty excited because we know it malts really well and the brewers love it.”
He said it comes from the northern Goulburn Valley region in a small town called Tungamah.
“What makes this extra special is that it’s in a part of the country that hasn’t actually seen any malt-quality barley for about 3 years.”
“This grower has experienced probably the lowest rainfall on record in the last 12-24 months and also some very hot temperatures over the harvest period, which typically don’t result in a high quality barley.
“This year he’s managed to produce something really special”
Moltoni said consistency is key with the malt.
“You talk about your beers which are malt-derived products and you talk about things like coffee where consistency is super important and anything that’s an agricultural-based product and they’re trying to deliver a high quality product,” he said,
“As a brewer you want to be able to produce consistently the same product so you don’t need to change up too much in the brewing process and be able to keep delivering the same product of a high quality at a very high standard.”
Signature malt performance
When it comes to the characteristics of the malt, the brewers agreed that consistency was key.
“Each season of Signature has performed a little differently in our brewhouse,” explained Stomping Ground’s Hall.
“We used a lot of the first year’s batch from NSW in a lighter style pale ale with great results, and I found it helped promote a clean hop character.
“It also produced a lovely bright clean wort. Last year’s signature from Tassie was different again with a little less extract but a stronger malt character.
“This year’s batch from Victoria has been great for lautering and we’ve had higher extract yield than expected meaning we’re using less malt. My experiences have always been positive.
“Good extract, clean tasty wort, good lautering ability. Most of the beer that we have used Signature in has been of a lighter malt profile and it has worked exceptionally in this respect.”
Scade added that while fermentability could be a bit lower, the consistency of the malt was the most advantageous part of using Signature Malt.
“I don’t think I’ve used it before this season, after I had heard good things about last year’s from Eddie at Nowhere Man. He’s been using it as his base malt in at least one brew a year.
“The thing that I liked about trying it was that once I got used to it is that it comes from one pocket of barley and I’ll have consistency from the whole year.
“Sometimes using another base malt where it comes from different areas there will be more variation across the year, so that was the bit that really interested me – knowing where it was coming from and the consistency.
Joe White Signature Malt is available through Bintani Australia.
Listen to the full interview with Boortmalt’s Liam Moltoni