MANHATTAN, Montana — The Gallatin Valley has the perfect soil and weather for making one of God’s best ideas ever – beer.

Specifically, it grows the malting barley needed for great beer.

Started in 2017, the Gallatin Valley Malt Co. in Manhattan has made a name for itself beyond the Treasure State with its “plant to pint” reality.

On Friday July 2, it’s hosting 200 members of the Iowa Farm Bureau to tour its Manhattan malting facility.

“It’s going to be chaotic,” said owner Karl DeJonge of Manhattan, and this is the only “beer industry” facility the group will be touring.

DeJonge will divide the tour group into four stations, he said: one, a tour of his family farm, and three different “stations” at the malting facility.

This fourth-generation family farm grows seed potatoes, but DeJonge was looking for a way to get more bang for the buck instead of just selling a grain commodity, he said.

“The malting operation is one way to get a value-added product.”

Now, “Name a beer and they probably use our malting barley,” DeJonge said. Coors contracts with DeJonge, as do local craft brewers MAP, Bunkhouse, Outlaw, Nordic, Mountains Walking and Belgrade’s Bar 3.

Anybody local not use it?

“Yeah, Bozeman Brewing, Bridger Brewing, Madison River. I just can’t crack those guys,” DeJonge said.

“Everything we malt we grown ourselves,” he added. “It’s never blended with an outside source malt.”

DeJonge has 1,200 acres in malting barley in the Manhattan area.

“The weather favors the Gallatin Valley. It’s fantastic for growing malting barley,” he explained.

Karl’s wife June is a Kimm, so this whole operation stays in the broader Gallatin Valley Dutch family.

Manhattan got its start as a malting barley “kingdom” back in the 1880s, when investors in Manhattan, N.Y., wanted to increase their malting industry. They sent seed around the country to see what quality of malt it would grow in different places.

“The best quality came from the Gallatin Valley,” DeJonge said.

This Farm Bureau tour was scheduled for last year but was COVID-cancelled.

Friday’s tour will take place between 9 and 11 a.m.

Recommended for you