With the overall craft brewing market falling flat in 2022, craft brewers are increasingly seeking ways to differentiate themselves, and using locally sourced high quality craft malt is one such strategy. Enter Riverbend Malt House, a specialty malt supplier that’s on the rise.
Riverbend was named one of the fastest growing private companies in the country by Inc. in August 2022, which was just one of many highlights last year for the N.C-based craft maltster.
In 2022, Riverbend Malt House malted 3.3 million pounds of craft malt, which included mainstay styles as well as custom and smoked malt for specialty projects. This production level was 28 percent higher than in 2021. It also became clear that much more capacity would be needed going forward to meet demand:
- Riverbend sold malt to more than 280 different breweries and distilleries in 2022, nearly 100 of which are new to the malt house’s customer base.
- Distillers are also an integral segment of Riverbend’s customer base, with almost a quarter of 2022 sales going to more than 30 customers in this exciting market. Three of Riverbend’s top 10 customers in 2022 were craft distillers.
That’s why Riverbend Malt House added a 10 tonne steep tank and 10-tonne Germination Kiln Vessel (GKV) unit to its production facility in 2022. These equipment additions increased the malthouse’s overall craft malt production capacity by more than 50 percent.
And as Riverbend rises, so do nearby grain suppliers. Riverbend sourced grain from North Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky Virginia, Georgia and even Florida— all from family-owned farms within 500 miles of the malthouse— and worked with agricultural researchers across the region on barley research and breeding.
It’s not all growth either. Product innovation and industry collabs continue apace. After 10 years in the making, Riverbend was one of the first malthouses in the country to malt the new Avalon barley variety developed by Virginia Tech’s Eastern Virginia Agricultural Research and Extension Center. Riverbend also created custom malt blends for the Athens Pink Boots Society Women’s International Brew Day beer made at Terrapin Beer Co., and for Fullsteam Brewery’s new base malt aptly named Plow To Pint Pilsner, among other projects.
All told, since 2018, amid the global COVID-19 pandemic, Riverbend has attained a revenue growth rate of 198 percent.
“This achievement is reflective of the relentless focus on product quality and customer service that the Riverbend team delivers day in and day out,” remarked Scott Hickman, Riverbend’s CEO, after the Inc. honor. “We are truly grateful for the confidence placed in us by more than 250 brewing and distilling customers.”
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