Former Vermont dairy farm now produces malt for beer

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Burlington, January 06, 2019: Agriculture is woven into the fabric of our area. But the farms of the future will look very different than the ones of the past.

Dairy used to be king. In 2010, there were 1,015 dairy farms in Vermont. Now, there are 699.

One of the farms that closed last year was Nordic Farms in Charlotte. It sold for more than $2 million. But the new owners aren’t milking cows, they’re getting on the microbrew bandwagon according to wcax.com

The new owner of the Charlotte farm is Andrew Peterson. He currently operates Peterson Malts out of Monkton. His grains are a vital part of the brewing process at the Foam Brewery in Burlington. His goal is to help breweries like Foam use local ingredients.

Peterson says he wanted to open his own brewery but he couldn’t find an opportunity to source local ingredients.

“When I was looking to do that I was wondering, what is my point of differentiation?” he said.

Peterson decided that he could help breweries. He started a small-scale malt house in Monkton to process grain into malt.

“It’s really the primary main part of the beer,” Peterson said.

Looking to grow his business, Peterson partnered with the owners of Hotel Vermont and purchased the 600-acre Nordic Farm property. The land is protected and only available for agricultural use. New ownership means the barn which was sitting vacant is on its way to becoming a multimillion-dollar malt house.

“I want to see Vermont continue to have this vibrant agricultural component and to do that we can’t just have 2-3-acre vegetable farms,” Peterson said.

Agriculture experts agree.

“We recognize that there is really going to be a paradigm shift on how farms do business. I do hope farms are aware of the great opportunities there are for funding,” said Lynn Ellen Schimoler of the Vermont Agency of Agriculture.

At the old barn in Charlotte, construction is expected to continue into the spring, around the time they plant their first crop on this new property.

“The demand continues to grow. Vermont is a place where everybody would like to be sourcing locally and supporting the local economy,” Peterson said.

So what is malt and what does it do for the beer? Peterson described it like this: If beer is a meal, the malt is the meat and potatoes, giving the beer its flavor and color. The hops are the seasoning.

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