Most craft breweries just pick up the phone to order the malted barley needed to produce their beers from large malting companies like Cargill. Brewing beer at Mount Ida is different – it starts in the field and requires a team of experts. Before barley gets planted in our fields we need the expertise of barley breeders. These folks are researchers, geneticists, and plant pathologists constantly in the hunt for the next barley variety that has good agronomic traits (ie good yield, winter hardiness, resistance to pests & disease, etc.) as well as “malting grade” characteristics (in other words will make good beer without processing difficulties in the brewhouse).

Virginia Tech barley breeding team (Wynse Brooks, Dr. Carl Griffey, Dr. Limei Liu) scouting Mount Ida’s barley with Jeff Bloem and John Bryce)

The life cycle of our 2-row winter barley is overseen by Mount Ida’s Farm Manager, Keith Shifflet. After harvest, our barley takes a quick trip to Murphy & Rude Malting Co., a small batch “craft maltster” in Charlottesville. At Murphy & Rude, Jeff Bloem processes our barley into pilsner, pale, and munich base malts, as well as roasted specialty malts. The malted barley then makes the return trip down Rt. 20 to the brewery at Mount Ida, where our Brewmaster, John Bryce, mashes it to expertly craft a wide variety of extraordinary beers. It takes tons of talent, collaboration, and hard work to turn barley into beer!
Our latest beer release, Mount Ida Pils, showcases Mount Ida barley. Mount Ida Pils is exceptionally soft with very fine, floral hop aroma and a classic European lager ester profile. If you’re looking for a crisp thirst quencher on a hot day, look no further. Our Brewmaster says, “The craft lager revolution is upon us. Beer drinkers are beginning to seek traditional European-style lagers and understand that delicate, delicious lager beer is the true test of a brewer’s skill. In other brews, excessive hop rates, high ABV, and bold flavors cover up a lot of sins, but there’s nothing for even the smallest mistake to hide behind in a delicate lager.”
Collaboration with barley breeders and maltsters, as well as attention to detail in both the field and the brewhouse is part of our DNA here at Mount Ida. But don’t just take our word for it – the proof is in the pint.

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