Meet our malt makers (and why they're in Whitton)
How much do you know about malt?
Well, malt is a versatile grain product you probably consume every day. It’s a popular sweetener and flavour enhancer. You’ll find it in breakfast cereals, breads, biscuits, chocolate bars and vinegar. However, it’s best known for being the soul of beer and other beverages, like whisky.
Our onsite malt house, Voyager Craft Malt, produces the finest hand-crafted malts from a diverse range of premium-quality grains. In this article, you’ll meet malt-makers, Stuart Whytcross and Brad Woolner, who’ve given character and identity to the grain grown in the region.
Malt-makers and best mates
Best mates since school, Stu and Brad grew up on neighbouring cereal grain farms, went to school and university together, and now work alongside each other at Voyager Craft Malt in Whitton, NSW. For Stu and Brad, the best malt starts with the best grain — and a competitive spirit!
“We’re both quite competitive! In the early days, we were always trying to outdo each other home-brewing beers,” says Stu. “Now, I’d say I’m the right-brain in the business — creative, optimistic, blue-sky thinking. Brad is definitely left brain — data, facts and logic. We balance each other.”
Sustainable malting practices
Driven by an ambition to showcase the high-quality grains their families have been growing for generations in the region, Stu and Brad are constantly looking for new methods, equipment and grain varieties. Pushing these boundaries starts somewhere you may not expect.
“One of the best ways we innovate is to look backwards to our heritage,” says Stu. “We lean into the strength of old cultivars and processes for new flavours, unique provenance, and diversity of choice. We’re motivated by playing a part in the creation of a great beer, bread or whisky.”
Stu and Brad have brought the sustainable practices employed on the farm through to the custom-built malt house, including reuse of wastewater on local irrigated crops, development of biodegradable malt bags, and carbon-neutral heat source to kiln all of their malts.
Malt tourism and living the dream
As producers of single-origin, artesian malts with a long history in agriculture, creating a malt house in their own backyard “still feels like a bit of a dream”. From standing in a bare paddock 18 months ago, scratching plans in the dirt, to see it transform into what it has today is remarkable.
Stu and Brad love that Whitton is becoming a malt tourism destination.
“We enjoy educating visitors and the local community about malt and the malting process. Where else in the world can you get such a wide range of malt-inspired products, all developed from quality grain grown in nearby paddocks, served right alongside where it was malted?
Being onsite at Whitton Malt House provides the perfect paddock to pint experience, connecting consumers, brewers, bakers, distillers and growers. It inspires Stu and Brad to keep upping the ante on what they do in experimenting with different varieties and malts.
“At the end of a tough day, there’s no better morale boost than walking into the cellar door, and seeing locals and visitors enjoying our client’s products, knowing we’ve played a part in them,” says Stu.
Beer and whiskey start in the ground
Beer and whiskey start in the ground, which is something Stu and Brad believe many of us forget. Producing the finest malting barley in the world relies on the farm and farmer. The Riverina’s mild winters and hot, dry summers provide the ideal growing conditions for malting barley.
The problem was, grain has previously been a faceless commodity once it’s trucked out the farm gate. Establishing Australia’s first on-farm malt house is changing the story by putting the spotlight back on the farm and farmer. For Stu and Brad, it’s been an exciting journey so far.
“I love the relationships and friends we’ve made and continue to make. We work with many like-minded businesses-small, independent, innovative and have established many great relationships. Plus, I get to work with my best mate every day,” says Stu.
Learn about the journey of malt
Want to learn more about malt? Whitton Malt House sits alongside Stu and Brad’s working malt house, giving visitors insight into the malting process, from the field, right through to the finished product — all in the one location.
Why not dine with us and enjoy this agritourism experience?