‘Brimming’ and ‘Bursting’!

As I write, I am pleased to report that business is beginning to pick up, but many of our brewing customers entered the month of January (“dry January”) with their brewing tanks still full of beer. Full of beer they had brewed for Christmas! Whether the new-found optimism of February will be sustained, well, all bets are off now!

We do continue to get new enquiries, and we have more than one brewery trialling our malt – at my suggestion – with the early reports very encouraging, for example from one: “it’s a lot better than what we have been using”!

“A lot better”? Well, our customers highlighted the difference when we spoke to them all in November (the annual Price Review). They repeatedly told us that our malts have more flavour, and, perhaps even more importantly, more extract (more pints of beer from a defined quantity of malt)! With regard to these two virtues, we know from our own observations and laboratory analysis that our malts are good, but only as we gain new customers do we really find out if we are better than anybody else.

So it is a source of much satisfaction that our malts are rated as some of the best. It is also the source of the inspiration for our new advertising campaign for 2022.

Our new adverts

Jasper Williams photographic skills have managed to portray the overriding message, that our malts are positively “Brimming with Extract” and “Bursting with Flavour”, and he has managed to capture this with both malt in the glass, as well as glasses full of beer.

We are taking these images with us to MaltingsFest 2022, of which we are the main sponsor. This is the annual beer festival held at Newton Abbott in Devon in the third week of April (21-23rd). It is the biggest gathering of brewers across the south west, and, of course, has not featured since 2019. So, everyone is anticipating a big turnout!

Our display banners are 2.2 metres high by 2 metres wide, and there are 4 of them. So, we are hoping to make an impact, and persuade a few more brewers to carry out trials with our malts.

We currently have more than 200 Craft brewing customers, and growing. What better recommendation could anyone want?

Terroir Matters!

At Warminster Maltings we have been talking about the ‘terroir’ of barley for quite a long time, and, if I am completely honest, mostly our words have fallen on deaf ears. But now “peer reviewed” research proves that the concept of ‘terroir’ is not unique to wine and cognac. A recently published study shows that it is just as applicable to barley and malt, and the flavours they impart!

Leading scientific journal Foods, examined two barley varieties grown in two separate areas of Southern Ireland, in 2017 and 2018, barleys which were distilled into whisky. According to the study, more than half of the 42 different flavour compounds identified in the range of whiskies produced, were directly influenced by the barley’s ‘terroir’! These flavours could, in part, be directly linked to the different mineral make-up of the soils.

I was delighted to read this, but I believe ‘terroir’ goes beyond just the soils. Proximity to the sea, and the influence of ‘sea frets’ (sea mist) has long been proclaimed as a contributory factor when it comes to the quality (mellow colour) of malting barley grown near to the coast. This would probably be less important to distillers than to brewers – brewers seek pale malts, and for some, the paler the better.

I am also bound to include the contribution I believe the 160-year-old fabric of our Maltings makes to the flavour of our malts. I am talking about the long-established yeasts that dwell in our buildings, and which interact with the green malt as it quietly germinates on our floors. We have always said this adds ‘character’ to our malts. The above study refers to this as “distinct flavours associated with the testing environments” (the environment of the distilleries engaged in the study).

I well remember, way back, when I first acquired Warminster Maltings, brewers were quite emphatic that all malts (all barleys) taste the same. Well, we have long ago proved that wrong. As for ‘terroir’, that was also decried, as it was pointed out there was no evidence to prove it exists. Well, there is now!

An Extraordinary Find

Of course, we immediately began to speculate on how it came to be there. Was it dropped back then, by a passing overseas traveller, who, as he entered the town, stopped by to observe the new malthouses under construction? Was it dropped later by a soldier returning home from the Great War? It was accepted currency until 1935. We could go on.

It reminded me of something I read about, probably in Country Life magazine, how coins had been set into the outer paving of a country house, each coin carrying a date of significance to the house in question. At the time I suggested we should do something like that in our garden. I now have a fresh impetus to follow this up.

Finally, Football

Warminster Town footballers continue to cover themselves in glory! The first team is still placed a strong second in the Western League, chasing new leaders Sherborne. The end of the season looks like being a thrilling climax to the present campaign.

The ladies team also acquitted themselves particularly well in the Wiltshire FA Women’s Cup Final, albeit they did not win. It was a terrific achievement for what you might consider is still a fledgling side.

So, I am very proud to announce that Warminster Maltings has agreed to continue our sponsorship across the 2022/23 season. The club chairman, David Parry, has, in return, agreed a modified livery which adds the words ‘Malt-Stars’ on the players backs.

All we now need is for the performance of our malt sales to match the performance of the footballers. There is every indication they might.

Robin Appel