Like many Pennsylvania farmers, the region’s small grains producers faced unusually wet weather last summer that made for a tough growing season. This year, an annual conference on grains and malt was designed with the goal of helping those farmers expand access to their products.
The Philadelphia Grain & Malt Symposium, held informally since 2012 and in its third year of being hosted by the University of the Sciences at 42nd and Woodland Streets, will start Friday evening with a cocktail event and continue all day Saturday. The event is brings together farmers, millers, maltsters, brewers, distillers, bakers, chefs, restaurateurs, and consumers for discussions on baking, milling, crop management and more. Tickets range from $40 to $95, depending on the events attended, but are $25 for farmers.
Sessions include topics like how to grow barley for malting, connecting directly to food and beverage producers, information on working with the state to promote products locally, and market development opportunities for small grains throughout the Mid-Atlantic. Hannah Smith-Brubaker, Executive director of the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture, will deliver a keynote address.
Mark Brault of Deer Creek Malthouse, one of the event organizers, started his Chester County company in 2012 with his partners because he believed local craft brewers and other artisans would benefit from high quality malt, something more distinctive than the mass-produced ingredients used by large companies. At the time, Deer Creek was the first malthouse to open in Pennsylvania in more than 75 years.
“Malting, to do it consistently, takes a lot of effort,” Brault said. “It’s an art and a science. And this was a bad year. Morale felt low for the people we were in contact with on the grain side of things. So we see this as a motivator for us to come together and kick off a new season where we can talk about some of these issues.”