Last month I traveled to Alameda and visited a place that plays an important part in the Marin beer scene.
Admiral Maltings opened earlier this year and is the only company in the state making malts for beers. This is big news as Northern California brewers can get malts made from local grains and it continues the history of having a malt house in California.
Malts are grains dried in a process known as malting. While modern machine malting is less intensive, Admiral Maltings chooses to use the original floor malting process. This hands-on method requires more attention turning grains each day to encourage germination. The advantage to floor malting is that it gives malts a much more aromatic and intense flavor.
Admiral’s co-owner Ron Silberstein felt the need to bring malting back to Northern California.
“The fundamental reason is there’s over 800 craft breweries in California and not one brewery is getting malt that is made in California,” Silberstein said. “That seemed absurd to me.
“(I wanted) to reintroduce something that is historic into the Bay Area and working with local farmers, growing a malting variety of a good quality and then malt it and sell it to breweries here.”
This is the first California malt house since prohibition. The last malting facility in Northern California was Bauer and Speitzer which opened in the 1860s and closed in 1981.
Head Brewer Christian Kazakoff at Iron Springs Pub and Brewery in Fairfax has used their malts and is pleased with the product.
“I’ve done a couple beers with two different pale ale malts and a couple of beers with their pilsner malts,” Kazakoff said. “I’ve been very happy with the results. I live in Alameda so I’ve got to give it up for the hometown heroes.”
Marin Brewing Company’s Brewmaster Arne Johnson used Admiral’s very first batch of malt when he made his Admiral Loral Saison.
“I’m very excited to have a local traditional malting in the Bay Area,” Johnson said. “I think the product is wonderful and every beer I’ve had from them has been pretty nice. We’re looking forward to working with them in the future.”
Tamalpais Brewery and Taproom is opening at the end of the month in San Rafael. Located at the corner of 4th and C Street they’ll eventually brew beer but for now they’ll serve a variety of beers from 28 of their 36 taps. There will be outdoor seating for 40 people.
The building was last a pool hall. Built in 1928 it was originally the Bank of Italy. Co-owner Aram Gutowski said there has been challenges renovating it.
“Given the fact that it was solid-pour concrete it is well settled and cured, 90 years’ worth,” Gutowski said. “The entire structure is concrete, every piece and parcel is concrete or steel. So we had to open a lot more holes than we wanted to. So that was challenging.”
The State Room Brewery will have a lager brewed with 30 percent rice. This will compliment their Asian inspired dishes on their menu. Look for this lager mid month.
At Moylan’s Brewery they have their seasonal Orange and Black Congrats Ale that is made with 40 pounds of tangerines. It’s now on tap for the entire baseball season. Their Double Kilt Lifter Scotch Ale is available for the summer as is their low ABV version Little Lifter.
Their Haze Craze IPA is on tap as is their Moylan’s Special Bitter. One of my favorites available is their chocolate version of Chelsea Moylan's Porter.
Iron Springs Pub and Brewery has Act 3 Scene 1 IPA on tap. The beer’s name is a reference to the scene when Caesar gets murdered by Brutus.
Their Que Valor, a Vienna lager returns in time for Cinco de Mayo. On May 11 look for Saison Enchante, a Farmhouse Saison. Their Melon Sky pilsner comes out late month.
Marin Brewing Company still has their White Knuckle Double IPA available. Their Triple Dipsea Belgian Ale comes out this week. Their Brass Knuckle Triple IPA is out mid month. They have a couple of kegs left of their Chocolate Airporter, another one of my favorite beers.
Those into lighter beers can enjoy their Tiburon Blonde which will be available all summer.
(Contact Rem O’Donnelley at firstname.lastname@example.org.)