Malting Organic Oats, Heritage Wheats, and Heritage Barley

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2019: $26,978.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2019
Grant Recipient: Doubting Thomas Farms
Region: North Central
State: Minnesota
Project Coordinator:
Noreen Thomas
Doubting Thomas Farms


  • Agronomic: barley, oats, wheat


  • Crop Production: Heritage
  • Production Systems: organic agriculture

    Proposal summary:

    The craft brewing industry has an immense impact on state and local economies - generating $2 billion in Minnesota and $200 million in North Dakota in 2016 alone (Brewer's Association). Craft beer enthusiasts are constantly seeking novel ingredients to expand the variety of offerings, and create a unique experience around their brew. According to the University of Minnesota (UMN) economic development team, there are over 500 active breweries in Minnesota alone.

    This quest for a unique flavor can be met with locally-sourced ingredients; thus, providing expanded market options for farmers to grow grain for the production. This project would initiate research of the potential of organic heritage barley, oats, and wheat grown in the Red River Valley for malt, a key ingredient in beer. We would work in collaboration with Vertical Malt for expertise on the science of malting grain.  A quote used with permission "As farmers, maltsters and brewers further develop local beer foodsheds, more ingredients are being added. With a growing interest in reviving the local beer supply chain, from grain to finished product, the time is ripe for alternative grain crops to enter the malting market. " Tamara Scully writer for Beverage Master Craft Spirits and Brew Magazine  


    Project objectives from proposal:

    Identify varieties of organic heritage oats, organic heritage wheat, and organic heritage barley that will malt with good flavor, and one the breweries like.

    Identify the quality aspects of the grains that worked well (document protein, moisture, grain size)

    Share results with other farmers and host field day.

    Re-purpose heritage varieties and keep from extinction.

    Expand market opportunities and diversify crop rotations of farm.

    Create grain-to-glass story for marketing.

    Identify market trends (i.e. light wheat beer in winter? new emerging flavors?)

    Build a steady income stream for farmers locally to build as a community.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.