The Moray LEADER funded project that led to the production of ‘PIONEER’ our locally sourced beer, is now coming to a close. In case you missed any of our previous messages about Field to Firkin, the project was intended to explore whether there’s a market for locally produced, premium priced beer that has:

  • a local provenance
  • a low carbon footprint
  • is produced via a short supply chain
  • creates a circular economy (where our bi-product goes back to the farm)

A key element of the project was to explore how a small craft brewery like us could gain access to Moray grown malt using a short supply chain model and also without that barley leaving the county, so that our product has a low carbon footprint. ‘Doesn’t this already happen?’ we hear you ask.

No, because that’s not how barley is currently bought and sold (there are grain factors involved). And also ‘No’ because the malting houses in Moray are too big to cope with our tiny demands.

A quality product with local provenance could potentially, if profitable, support the local farming and brewing economies and open up the opportunity to develop other parts of the supply chain within the Moray economy, notably malting, milling and roasting.

What We Did

In order to test out what the issues in the supply chain were, we made a beer called ‘PIONEER,’ that contains barley specially grown on Pitgaveny Farm in a field not five miles from the brewery.  We wanted to malt it in Moray as well, but we’re just too small. So we sent it to Fife as that was the closest place that could deal with our tiny pile of 4 tons of grain (whisky malt is processed in 50 ton batches).

What We Found Out

The project findings have to be considered in the context of 2020. There were limitations to what we could and couldn’t explore and discover as a result of the pandemic.

That said, this was a project about the importance of ‘values’ ‘provenance’ and ‘story’.  The Covid-19 pandemic has assisted in one way, in that we’ve noticed it has created a national interest in supporting local business and also for supporting ‘the little guys’ like us. 

What’s more, now more than ever, people are beginning to question where their food and drink comes from. We hear it everyday from our customers in the Tap Room and in the shop and that makes us very happy indeed.

We’re now writing up the project report and in it we suggest that in the future, our local area could benefit from the addition of a small batch malting house and mill that can process barley into specialist malt for small food and drink businesses such as ours. A new malt house and mill could increase the provenance of our product, reduce our (and others) carbon footprint, create jobs and also attract tourists.

What Next?

The big issue – isn’t it always – is financing such a development.  So if anyone has a few hundred thousand quid stuffed down the back of the sofa that they don’t know what to do with, then please do give us a shout!

In all seriousness, next we plan to use our project report to open up further conversations with people who might be interested in supporting the proposed ideas. This will take time and involves making the right connections with people who can help.  If you know anyone you think we should talk to, please get in touch.

In the meantime, it’s still not too late to try PIONEER if you haven’t already.  So please do pop down to the Windswept Taproom and sit by our fire pit with a beer or if you don’t live local to the brewery, visit our online shop.  When you’ve had a taste, why not let us know what you think?

Oh, and finally, watch this space for future news developments…

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