Farm to Can: Northeast Grains and Malt on Beer Sessions Radio

By Caroline Fox

When we shop for produce, we usually buy what’s in season. Winter promises hearty, root vegetables, and summer welcomes juicy berries and ripe melons. But when we look at beverages, a local ingredient list is much more uncommon. It wasn’t until about ten years ago that the Northeast craft beverage scene decided that brewers and their customers should move towards regionally sourced ingredients. Since then, Beer Sessions Radio has been covering the movement towards drinking locally. 

Following the launch of the NY Farm Brewery Law – designed to increase demand for locally grown products and stimulate the economy – Beer Sessions has played a pivotal role in covering New York’s commitment to working with the land and supporting regional farmers, maltsters, brewers, and everyone in between. In the studio, Jimmy has brought together local pioneers, including Grow NYC Grains and Hudson Valley Malt, for rich conversation about the efforts to localize craft beers’ ingredient list. On the ground, Jimmy launched NYC Brewers Choice, the first event in the city to gather 20 different brewers and local maltsters for a special celebration. As momentum picked up, Beer Sessions started exploring other avenues to connect regional ingredients to the craft beverage industry. In 2017, Jimmy introduced listeners to the Empire Rye Project, offering an objective glimpse into NY state distilleries. The Project then launched NY Rye Week, which Beer Sessions covered extensively, highlighting the ancient grain’s rich history in New York. The following year, Jimmy hosted Slow Grains in collaboration with Slow Food NYC and Grow NYC Grains. Through his events, Jimmy celebrates the intersection of brewers, maltsters, authors, and farmers, welcoming key players into one space to highlight the collective Northeast grains movement. 

Through the lens of Beer Sessions, listeners have watched the demand build around locally sourced ingredients. Since 2010, Jimmy has been building an archive for the craft beverage scene with his lively, in-depth, and educational conversations. Today, Beer Sessions strives to illuminate the innovation and collaboration within the brewing scene. As the movement continues to heat up with conferences and symposiums taking place throughout 2021, Beer Sessions has stirred up a hearty playlist, tracing local malt and grains from farm to bottle (or can!).  


January 2021: Episode 565: B.C. Craft Beer and Malt with Canadian Legends

This week, Beer Sessions Radio is heading up to Western Canada to explore BC’s craft beer scene. Jimmy talks to Brad McQuhae from König Brewing Systems in Abbotsford, BC; Rob Liedl from Applied Brewing and Malting Solutions in Vernon, BC; and Joe Wiebe, author of Craft Beer Revolution: The Insider’s Guide to BC Breweries, co-founder of Victoria Beer Week, and director of content for BC Ale Trail. 

January 2021: Episode 564: Name That Grain: Excelsior Gold Malting Barley

This week on Beer Sessions Radio, Jimmy is highlighting a new variety of New York state barley, following it from development at Cornell University to utilization in breweries across NY. Jimmy welcomes Paul Leone from the NY State Brewers Association in Rochester NY; Jason Havens and Dave Johnson from Rusty Nickel Brewing Company in West Seneca, NY; and Daniel Sweeney, a PhD student at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY.

December 2020: Episode 561: Malt and Sail Freight in the Hudson Valley

This week Beer Sessions Radio is heading down the Hudson River. Jimmy welcomes Sam Merrett and his carbon-neutral sail freighter Schooner Apollonia; Dennis Nesel from Hudson Valley Malt in Germantown, NY; Matt Curtin from Sing Sing Kill Brewery in Ossining, NY; and Jamie Bishop from Mill House Brewing Company in Poughkeepsie, NY. 

July 2020: Beer Sessions Radio Episode 544: Unearthing New York’s Long History of Milling

This week on Beer Sessions Radio, Jimmy revisits the question of ‘what came first beer or bread?’ and dives deep into the history of milling. Joining him are guests, Lavada Nahon, a culinary historian and interpreter for African American history for NYS Department of Parks; Amy Halloran, flour ambassador and the author of The New Bread Basket; and Bryan Ford, of Artisan Bryan and the author of New World Sourdough.

May 2020: Episode 534: Apocalyptic Breweries: The Power of a Local Supply Chain

This week on Beer Sessions Radio, Jimmy talks to Evan Watson of Plan Bee Farm Brewery, Barry Labendz of Kent Falls Brewing, and Derek Dellinger AKA The Fermented Man, who has worked with both breweries. Evan has always said he constructed an “apocalyptic” brewery and Covid-19 has certainly put that to the test. Evan and Barry share the strength of their local supply chains. Evan is sourcing mixed culture from the spring honey at his farm, has a field of danko rye and is seeing his best hops yet. Barry recently rolled out Kent Falls’ Superscript IPA, which has been in the works for five years and is made with locally grown malt and hops.

August 2019: Episode 496: The Seed to Sip Supply Chain

Sara Hagerty of Origin Malt in Columbus, Ohio and Ivan Dedek of LIC Beer Project join Jimmy to talk about the annual Beers With(out) Beards event, LIC Beer Project’s American craft lager made with Origin’s two-row barley malt, how specialty crops like barley can revive agricultural communities, and why they predict that beer lovers will one day say “I can’t wait for Marden season!”

August 2019: Episode 495: Farm-To-Malster Brewing

The day after the 9th Annual NYC Brewers Choice, a.k.a. The Slow Grains edition, Jimmy sat down with some of the Northeast’s leaders in the regional grain market. Maltster Andrea Stanley of Valley Malt, June Russell of GrowNYC Grains, Barry Labendz of working-farm brewery Kent Falls, and Evan Watson of Plan Bee Farm Brewery tell the backstory on reviving regional grains in the Northeast with malt and beer, their work getting regional malt into New York City-area breweries, and the power of integrating grains into our understanding of a local food system.

July 2019: Episode 489: Going the Extra Mile for Local Malt

Jimmy talks malt with Jeff Lyons of Keg and Lantern and Max Ocean and Zane Coffey, co-founders of Catskill, NY’s Subversive Malting and Brewing. Tune in for a preview of NYC Brewer’s Choice 2019 and to learn more about the rise of New York’s malt industry, brewing tasty ingredient-driven beers, sourcing up-and-coming hop varieties, and the surprising smells of malting.

November 2016: Episode 357: On the Road with Beer Sessions Radio: Back to the Roots

In the final episode of On the Road with Beer Sessions Radio Season One, host Jimmy Carbone travels to the Finger Lakes. He visits The Farmhouse Brewery in Owego, the first malting house in New York State in over a decade and one of only a handful also brews in-house. You’ll hear from a top grains farmer about the challenges he faces to produce and distribute unique, artisanal grains to brewers. You’ll also meet the experts who support him in his work. Up in Ovid, Jimmy visits Blackduck Cidery and meets the whole family behind some of the best cider in the state. Plus, meet the community behind New York cider at Finger Lakes Cider House.

August 2016: Episode 345: On the Road with Beer Sessions Radio: License to Brew

In this episode of On the Road with Beer Sessions Radio, host Jimmy Carbone travels to the Capital region near Albany, New York.  You’ll hear from the farmers of Indian Ladder Farms about how they became leaders in the region for growing hops, and about how the farm brewery license, created by lawmakers in the nearby capital, has enhanced their business and made their farm more viable. The license to brew and serve beer on site has allowed local beverage producers to prosper. In the nearby town of Rensselaerville, you’ll meet the people behind a brewery that is primarily dedicated to learning the best ways to use New York State grains and hops in beer. Finally, we visit the capitol building in Albany and a nearby brewer who has chosen not to source completely locally-- for some unexpected reasons.

June 2016: Episode 335: On the Road with Beer Sessions Radio: The New Primitives 

In the first episode of On the Road with Beer Sessions Radio, you will travel with us to the Hudson Valley region. Although it’s only about an hour’s drive from New York City, you feel like you’re in a different world.  The Hudson Valley is an historic beer-making region, but with the rise of industrialization and cheap transportation, breweries virtually disappeared for most of the 20th century. Then, in the last few years, locals again began to appreciate and demand craft, local beer, which attracted experienced brewers to the region to open their first ever breweries. The brewers wanted to make their beer in a traditional way with ties to the community and local products, like it was made in the region over 100 years ago. Thus, Beer Sessions host Jimmy Carbone dubbed them “the new primitives.”

February 2016: Episode 317: From Grain to Glass

On this week's episode of Beer Sessions Radio, along with our winter co-host Anne Becerra, we’re excited to reunite with Thor Oechsner, and chat all grains with author Amy Halloran, Strong Rope Brewery's Jason Sahler, Germantown Malt’s Dennis Nelson, and Valley Malt’s intern, Dustin!

March 2015: Episode 260: New York Malt

Celebrate New York malt on a brand new episode of Beer Sessions Radio! Jimmy Carbone is joined by an all-star panel of guests including Chris Balla, Beverage Director of Mile End Deli, Adamo Fillipetti of Pioneer Malting, Andrea Stanley of Valley Malt and Chris Sheena of Gun Hill Brewing Co. Malt is the building block of beer, tune in for a lively discussion about brewing practices, malt variations and all things beer!

April 2014: Episode 210: New York Agriculture and Beer Show

It's the New York Agriculture and Beer Show! Grains, hops, water - you name it - beer is full of agricultural products. This week on Beer Sessions Radio, Jimmys got a studio full of beer/ag professionals. Hear from Justin Riccobono of Dutchess Hops, Jennifer Grossman of the National Resources Defense Council, June Russell of GrowNYC/Greenmarket, Paul Leone of the New York State Brewers Association and Kelley Taylor of Kelso Brewing. Later in the show, Chris Schyer aka the Liquid Lent Guy calls into the show.

August 2013: Episode 176: Local Grains!

Jimmy and the gang are joined in the studio to talk local grains with Maia Raposo, spokesperson for Brooklyn Brewery, June Russell, Manager of Farm Inspections and Strategic Development for Greenmarket/GrowNYC and Andrea Stanley from Valley Malt. Tune in and learn about the collaborative effort between Brooklyn Brewery and Greenmarket - the Brooklyn Greenmarket Wheat - a beer brewed from 70% New York State-grown wheat and barley. Drinking this lovely beer helps reinvigorate the state's grain industry and benefit GrowNYCs mission to support family farms, farmers markets, gardens, recycling and education. June Russell elaborates on the state of local grains and how the Greenmarket is pushing their bakers to use local flour. Get an update on the state of grains in New York State and the creative ways in which they are being used. Andrea Stanley chats about some of the interesting things happening at Valley Malt. 

April 2013: Episode 160: Local Grains & Water

Jimmy Carbone is keeping it local on this week's episode of Beer Sessions Radio. June Russell of GrowNYC is in the studio talking about Greenmarkets Regional Grains program, and how she promotes the products from local farmers for brewing. Jennifer Grossman of the Natural Resources Defense Council is talking about New York State's water supply, and how protecting and securing clean water ensures quality beer in the future. Kelly Taylor, brewer at Kelso, joins the crew to talk about brewing with local malt! What kinds of grains does Kelly use from locals like Valley Malt? How do regional malting facilities create jobs and promote sustainability? What types of grains are suitable for the Northeast climate?

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