PINE BLUFFS, Wyo. (Wyoming News Now) - It’s one thing to say you buy local for your business. But Wyoming Malting Company and its sister company, Pine Bluffs Distillery, have another reason for getting their grains from local farmers: the idea that there is a difference in Wyoming grains.
“We think there is. We’re a mile high, we have limestone soil,” Chad Brown, co-owner of the company, told Wyoming News Now, “So a barley grown here is going to be different than barley grown in North Dakota.”
The malting company and distillery started business in 2017 in Pine Bluffs. They employ multiple kinds of grains for their products. Barley and oats from Albin, wheat from Carpenter, and corn and rye from Pine Bluffs.
In Albin, Tim Anderson and his son, Ty, run Prairie Farms – a family farm homesteaded back in 1887. This year they are growing 125 acres of malt barley. This is a first for Tim since he grew some feed malt back in the ‘80s.
“It gives me another option to plant in my rotation.” Time said, “It spreads my risk out a little bit more. Not tied up in the commodities.”
Meanwhile, in Pine Bluffs, another farmer is taking a risk, and it looks to pay off. Fred Macy is growing rye for WMC for the second year in a row. His family farm has been in Pine since 1909, and he, too, sees the benefit in growing for the malting company, despite the reputation of rye.
Rye is weed to wheat farmers in the area, but Fred has chosen to grow 75 acres of it – and it looks to be a bump crop. Fred says it’s at the top end of what a rye crop should be. The very day this story was published, the five foot stalks of rye were harvested.
As for the malting company and distillery, Chad says it’s been fun delving into the community.
"Yes, we are a business," Chad said, "But we are a part of Pine Bluffs. now. We're part of the fabric of the town and we want to continue doing that."
It’s a mutual relationship with multiple benefits. Farmers get a local buyer that ensures their presence for the future. The company gets local, unique grain they can use to make their product. That product, the bourbons and vodkas of Pine Bluffs Distillery, have already won several national awards. In addition, the malted grains are also sold to other companies, like Accomplice Beer Company in Cheyenne.
In the end, the relationship between the farms and the new company in Pine Buffs isn’t just creating a spirit you can pour into a glass, but a spirit of community.