A new Adelaide-based malting company launched this week but, while the business is new on the scene and eager to supply local craft breweries and distilleries, it is also steeped in history.
Australian Malting Services and Technology (AMSAT) initially appeared as part of Adelaide Maltings in the 1990s but, by the early 2000s, sales and marketing manager Andrew Munro says the operation was spun off and switched its focus.
Instead, for the last couple of decades, the focus has been on roasting oak alternatives for the wine industry. Now, however, after longtime employee Simon Ewart bought the business outright a couple of years ago, the M in the name has become more relevant than ever with the arrival of AMSAT Character Malts.
“We’re returning to our roots,” Andrew says. “The company was originally a joint venture with Coopers, making malt for Coopers Brewery and for export.”
While AMSAT will continue making oak chips, he says they're well positioned to produce a range of specialty products, such as crystal, roasted and peated malts for the country’s brewers and distillers, training their focus on specialty rather than base malts for a number of reasons.
“We are roasting experts,” Andrew says. “We roast products all day, every day, and the system we use to roast oak was designed to roast malt.
“Base malt is not what we do best so it just doesn’t make sense for our business model.”
Although not officially part of AMSAT, Richard Chabrel is something of an honorary team member: the farmer went to school with Simon and Andrew and grows their much of their barley on his farm in the Adelaide Hills, thus allowing the business to provide South Australian-grown malt to the local brewing industry.
“We think that will mean a lot to Adelaide breweries,” Andrew says.
“Craft breweries always talk about supporting local and drinking local. So, we want to offer the market locally-made specialty malts that are made by an independent, Australian-owned business.”
AMSAT are partnering with Ellerslie to get their malt to brewers across Australia.
“The value of freshness is really clear,” Andrew says of the benefits they see in offering a homegrown product. “A malt roasted a month or a few months ago versus one that was malted a year ago and then sat on a shipping container just doesn’t look the same.”
While their focus is predominantly on specialty malts, AMSAT do have some plans for producing base malt but these involves partnering directly with local brewers. They’re setting up a contract roasting and contract malting service for anyone who wants to take advantage of their floor malting setup.
“It does create a richer, deeper and more complex flavour profile," Andrew says of this traditional and labour-intensive method of producing malt. "But there are many more multiples in the costs of production that not everyone is willing to pay.
“But for a brewery that’s farm-based or has their own supply of barley or wheat, we want to supply small batches of malt for them.”
AMSAT Character Malts officially launches this week, with further details of their range available here.