Ska Brewing in Durango, Colo., just added a new bright green silo at its facility for Proximity Malt, the only regional malting company in Colorado. The silo is obviously functional — with the difficulty of shipping in and out of Durango, especially in the winter, this additional silo is going to be huge for maintaining inventories — but also stands as a symbol to the local partnership the two have formed. Ska said it’s now sourcing over half of its malts from Proximity and to celebrate even more regional malt going into their batches, the crew is brewing a collaboration beer together next week.
“We’re really proud of supporting local farmers who are growing the barley and supporting all of the jobs Proximity brought to the San Luis valley, but we’re equally proud of the malt they are providing,” said Steve Breezley, COO of Ska Brewing. “While we have numerous great suppliers in the industry, Proximity is doing some really fun, unique roasting, as well as supplying us with great base malts.”
Proximity has been working to shorten its supply chain around the country. The San Luis Valley in Colorado has been traditionally growing barley for more than 50 years, and its new malthouse in in Monte Vista, Colo., was chosen to take advantage of this consistent malting barley supply and expand the malt markets in the Southwest. It also has locations in Laurel, Del., and Milwaukee. The Mid-Atlantic region is the largest winter barley-growing region in North America, and the plant in Laurel is meant to capitalize on this winter malting barley production.
But why go this step and form a partnership versus just contracting for ingredients as you would any supplier? Well, to Ska, Proximity isn’t just any supplier.
“Relationships play such a key role in running any business, but when it comes to raw materials for brewing it’s incredibly important,” Breezley told us. “The relationships we have with Proximity we formed before Proximity even existed. They brought on so many industry veterans such as Amy Germershausen, Susan Welch and Dave Kuske, whom many of us had already worked with. This helped build trust in a brand new company we might not have had. Having Proximity located so close to us has also given us the chance to get our brewing staff out to the barley fields and to the maltings itself, and this is something brewers rarely have the chance to do.”
What about the beer?
The new Green Silo Saison will be a dark Rye Saison. Spiciness will be coming in from three separate directions — the two types of rye malt being used (chocolate rye and crystal rye), the French Saison yeast and finally the three varieties of Slovenian hops (Styrian Wolf, Styrian Fox and Styrian Dragon).