State brewery law fueled creation of malt houses – New York News

As David Salisbury tells it, Convergence Craft owes its existence to the New York Farm Brewery Bill.


The legislation, effective in 2013, created a special license for small brewers who promise to use New York-grown hops and malting barley in their beer -– at least 20 percent through 2018, then 60 percent by 2019 and 90 percent by 2024.

According to the law, beer manufactured under these guidelines would be designated as “New York State labeled beer.”

Like others, Salisbury saw an opportunity in becoming the middleman –- a malt house –- between farmers and brewers as the craft beverage industry took off. He jettisoned early plans for a microbrewery and instead joined with two friends and his brother to create Convergence Craft; it’s housed in an industrial park off Central Avenue in Albany.

By early this year, Convergence was among nine malt houses in New York actively purchasing grain. Before the Farm Brewery Bill, the state had no malt houses.

The businesses process raw grain under controlled conditions to release the enzymes that convert starches to sugars, which during subsequent brewing or distilling creates alcohol.

Malt houses are one piece of the developing infrastructure needed to support craft beer.

Barley to malt is another.

Few farmers grew malting barley before the Farm Brewery Bill, according to a report last year from Cornell Cooperative Extension/Harvest NY. While the report concluded that enough malting barley was being grown in the state to meet the current 20 percent sourcing requirement for craft brewers, it projected that “significantly more acreage than is currently…

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