Malting Barley Processing

A Craft Malthouse for the Gallatin Valley

Hello Engineers!

I’m Tom Blake, professor of barley breeding and genetics at MSU (994-5055,  While the craft brewing industry has resulted in phenomenal innovation in US brewing, innovation in US malting  is at a standstill.  This project, if successful, will result in the construction of America’s first model craft malthouse in the Gallatin Valley.  If successful, this will result in similar malthouses being constructed across barley’s growing area.  Montana Maltings (currently a division of Western Feedstock Technologies, Inc., a company owned by my wife and myself) is in the process of identifying venture capital partners to purchase land and buildings near Bozeman.  We need a design for a 20 ton per week malting system.

Montana Malting’s malting system will be a tray-based system.  A stainless steel tray with a perforated bottom will be loaded with five tons of barley, and moved on a track to the steeping chamber.  Grain will be steeped to around 47% moisture, a process that demands about 36 hours.  The tray will then be moved to the first of two germination chambers, where it will germinate for 48 hours.  It will be moved to the second germination chamber to complete germination.  Germination requires 3-4 days, depending on variety and environment.  The tray will then be positioned in the kilning station.  Kilning can take from 24-48 hours, depending on the class of malt to be produced.  A portion of the kilned malt may then be moved to a roaster, for production of the darkest classes of malt.  This will permit us to move four batches of malt through the system every 7-8 days, allowing us to meet our production objectives. 

 Recycling energy during malting is critical, in Montana, doubly so.  Malt must be kilned indirectly, since pumping hydrocarbon-laden air through kilning malt results in the synthesis of well-known classes of carcinogens.  A design that results in efficient and effective heat management will be a key contributor to malthouse sustainability.

We would like Capstone students to design a system that will utilize stainless steel trays that can accommodate 5 tons of barley (barley density is about 0.6g/ml), and design and build a prototype at 1/50 scale.


Dr. Thomas Blake,