As 5th generation farmers in Loveland, Colorado, the Olander family respects the heritage of our region’s agriculture, and even more so as they endeavor to grow a local craft malting operation: Root Shoot Malting. The Olanders have unique access to the entire malting process from seed variety and growth, to harvest and final kilning. With ever-growing consumer interest in local products, offering local malts to local brewers is a very exciting effort that is based here in Loveland.
We sat down with Emily Olander, Root Shoot’s Communications Manager, to learn about her family’s craft.
What can you tell us about the history of the family business?
Todd [Oldander] is founder and maltster here at Root Shoot, and his dad, Steve, was born into a line of Colorado farmers. The Olander family has been in the Loveland-Berthoud area since 1926, and barley for beer has been part of our harvest for more than 40 years. We were originally growing for Coors and Budweiser in the 1970’s and we’ve also grown corn and alfalfa for dairy cows.
About 10 years ago, we stopped growing for Coors, and shifted significantly to growing for dairy, as well as some custom harvesting for other growers in the area.
What instigated the switch to grow and malt for craft brewers?
As we watched craft beer grow here in Northern Colorado, we started asking questions about local quality malt. Though we knew a lot about barley, we did not know a lot about malting. We found out that most local brewers most were using European malt.
We thought – there’s gotta be a way to create a high-quality American product, and help reduce the carbon footprint and reduce shipping fees. So, in 2013 we started construction on the malt house, producing our first batch in 2015. At the time there were less than 20 malthouses in the US. Now there are close to 100.
Can we taste your malts in local beers?
Yes! Our Genie Pale malt is our most popular, and it won gold at the Craft Maltsters Guild’s inaugural Malt Cup for best Pale Malt. Coloradoans are so in tune with where their ingredients are coming from, what they’re eating, what they’re drinking. Fortunately for us, we are so close to 400 [Colorado] breweries, and all the new distilleries around as well. Ninety-nine percent of our customers are Colorado craft brewers. Knowing that we grew the malt that is in a certain beer is super cool.
What makes Root Shoot unique in this growing sector?
There’s a few things. It is unique that we are both the farmer and the maltster. We were also the first craft malthouse in the United States to operate a Mälzungssystemen from Kaspar Schulz, known for its excellent quality.
Live Loveland’s mission is to celebrate, engage and unite the community through collaboration. Which of those words does Root Shoot connect the most with?
Celebrate & collaborate. That is what we do, too. For every malt we do, we collaborate with the brewer or homebrew shop. We do a lot of malt sensory events at breweries and homebrew shops – so be sure to look for those! We also love to celebrate our fellow local farmers by increasing awareness of the presence of agriculture in Loveland.
By Jessica Moskwa Hawkins
June 22, 2019
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