St. George native Jared Weathers’ cotton and peanut farm is now home to a craft malting business, the first and only in South Carolina. Palmetto Malt opened last month and made its second appearance in a local beer at Rusty Bull Brewing Co. on Oct. 2.
“We started malting grain six weeks ago, but it’s been in the works for over a year,” Weathers said. “The first thing I did was research online, and then I took a flight to Austin and spent a week with a maltster out there learning about the craft of malt. I got back home and pitched it to my dad and business partner and then we flew out to Colorado State and did a course out there.”
Upon returning from Colorado, Weathers and his dad Sam purchased equipment from a company out of Fargo, North Dakota, and got to work.
The process of malting grain involves soaking barley before allowing it to germinate, converting the grains to fermentable sugars. The grains are then dried and toasted before being packaged and sent off to breweries or distilleries.
Early on in the process, Weathers linked up with Rusty Bull Brewing Co. co-owners Brian Bogstad and Ben Mayer.
“My best friend works right beside Brian, and I popped in and told him what we were doing,” Weathers said. “We’re a one stop shop — farm to froth. We bring it right from the field to the glass.”
With only a few maltsters in North Carolina and none in South Carolina, Bogstad and Mayer were thrilled when they heard there would finally be a local option.
“When it comes to the brewing industry, we’re kind of in a desert for being able to supply the ingredients we need locally,” Bogstad said. “It’s really cool to be able to source grain that has been grown here and malted here.”
“He’s a new maltster, and we want to use local as often as we possibly can,” Mayer said. “It’s a great opportunity for us to work with someone that we can talk to face to face.”
Last weekend, Bogstad and Mayer launched their first Palmetto Malt-brewed beer, a golden 4.3% ABV farmhouse ale.
“Farmhouse beers started out in Europe as a beer that you would give your farm hands while they were working,” Bogstad said. “We just thought it would be a cool play on being able to go through the malting process.”
Bogstad and Mayer have been by Weathers’ side from the start, and they’re helping him connect with Columbia and Greenville-based breweries along with local spots like Fat Pig Brewing Co., where owner Eulie Middleton will soon launch a beer made using Palmetto Malt. Bogstad said they’ll have more upcoming beers on tap brewed with Weathers’ product.
“It’s neat to have a need that can be met locally,” Bogstad said. “It builds the awareness of the farming communities in our state and the capabilities that they have.”
“I look at Brian and Ben as friends more than business partners, and they are a lot of the reason that I got into this,” Weathers said. “They distribute a lot of beer, and I know they’ll showcase our malt fantastic through their beer.”