Steve Clark and Chris Schooley started Troubadour Maltings in May 2015 with the goal of telling the story of malts in a more personal way: from grower, to grain, to brewer. When thinking about how malts are much overlooked despite the rising popularity of craft beer and knowledge of hop varieties, Clark and Schooley mention, “for how advanced craft beer is…the supply side of the industry is completely wide open and really static. There’s not a lot of innovation going on.”
Consumers don’t have to dig very deep to find out what variety of hops are in a beer, yet malts are not usually listed. “Think about the hop phenomenon and, you know, it’s a big tasteable difference… they give something different to the beer,” Schooley said in regards to famed hops such as Amarillo and Galaxy, which people can easily assign a flavor and feeling too, whereas “2-row malt” is all-too-easy to forget.
While hops add aroma, bittering qualities,and balance to a beer, malts contribute to the mouthfeel, overall taste, and color. Troubadour is producing sustainable craft malts using barley from five local farmers who dedicate their fields to beer. Greg Walker’s farm on Highway 14 and County Road 3 is a short bike ride away from Troubadour and provides 20 acres of barley which roughly translates to half a million pounds of malt, or 1,000 barrels and 4,000 pints of beer.
Clark has a long history in the pharmaceutical industry, while Schooley has a background in coffee roasting. Marry science, curiosity, and a passion for sustainable craft and you have 1 of 75 craft malting facilities in the country, nestled in Fort Collins.
Troubadour changed the game by naming their malt varieties, which makes them stand out in an otherwise oversimplified part of the supply chain. A lightly- kilned malt will become their “Pevec Pilsner Malt” (Pevec is Czech for songbird), while a malt that is roasted for a longer period of time will become a darker, more crystallized malt such as their “Moonlight Serenade.”
Troubadour has their eyes set on the bigger picture. “We are trying to create value and something special for the brewer. On the other side of that, we are trying to create a better market for the growers as well. We are serving two different markets. That’s a key part of our whole story,” Said Schooley.
Troubadour malts can be found in many local beers, most notably Oskar Blues Mexican Lager “Beerito” and Funkwerks “Serenade” Saison.