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