Since August, Alameda-based malthouse Admiral Maltings has been busy supplying Bay Area breweries like Russian River, Black Sands, and Cellarmaker with the first locally grown and processed malt in California since prohibition. Next up: A taproom to showcase what those breweries are doing with their malt, which will be located right at the matlhouse inside a former naval building at 651 W. Tower Ave in Alameda. They’ll call it The Rake after the malthouse implement used to turn germinating barley, and they hope to have it open on January 26th, pouring 20 beers made with Admiral’s malt and serving food like cheese, charcuterie, and sandwiches.
Ron Silberstein, longtime head brewer at ThirstyBear, started Admiral Maltings with Magnolia Brewpub founder Dave McLean. Pioneering Bay Area brewers like Ken Grossman of Sierra Nevada and John Martin of Drake’s, among others, have invested in the project. Explaining the need for local malt, one of beer’s four main ingredients (along with hops, yeast, and water), Silberstein told Eater SF that, “For the most part, malt still follows the old model, back when there was just Budweiser, Miller, and Coors.”
That means malt, even the stuff used by craft breweries, is mass-produced or blended together to limit variation by large, midwestern and Canadian malt houses. A resurgence of local malt or “small malt” could bring new flavors, variety, and experimentation to beer, or so Silberstein hopes.
The Rake will provide a showcase for those flavors, with windows peering from the taproom into the malthouse, and taps pouring beers that are the fruit of Admiral Maltings’ labor. Existing examples include Anchor Brewing’s Admiral Nelson, Cellarmaker’s Double Dry-Hopped Questionable Origins #4, and Almanac and ThirstyBear's collaboration Hazy Voyage, all made with Admiral’s first crop of malt, called Maiden Voyage.
“We think that by educating the consumer about malt-forward beers, or malt in beers, they’ll have more fun, and they’ll want to experience that as they learn about it,” Silberstein said this summer in anticipation of the taproom.
The Rake will find itself in good company, too: Almanac Beer Co. is currently moving in under the same roof as Admiral, building out a brewery, taproom, and beer garden that will quadruple that brewery’s capacity. Almanac is sourcing grain from Admiral, as are nearby Alameda brewery Faction Brewing and distillery St. George Spirits.