Port of Columbia Awarded Funds for a Craft Malt Facility

The Port of Columbia has been awarded a $5 million grant and loan package from the Community Economic Revitalization Board (CERB) for construction of a craft malt facility at Blue Mountain Station. The package consists of a $3,750,000 loan and $1,250,000 grant. The committed private partner, Mainstem Malt, will be investing an amount equal or greater than $5 million for this project. This funding will connect to and extend existing infrastructure and construct a 12,000 square foot building that will house a class malt facility to help Mainstem Malt operate long term. The Port will build and own the building which will be leased to Mainstem Malt.

Mainstem Malt is the committed private partner for this project. This company focuses on craft malt which is the practice of malting barley on a small-scale for craft beer and distillers.  Currently Mainstem has been partnering with a few craft malt facilities in the PNW, but with this new facility they will be able to malt their own barley and expand their capacity. They partner with growers that use regenerative and sustainable growing practices.

Grains, most common being barley, are malted so the grain can be transformed into a simpler sugar. Then in the fermentation process for distillers and brewers, the yeast has an easier time digesting this simpler form of sugar.  The process is roughly a week for barley malting, which is the most common form of malting. First step is steeping or soaking the grain. Next is germination. The grain is left to sprout into a seedling. Final step is kilning, heating the grain to produce its final color and flavor. Malt can be used for brewing, distilling and food production. Jacob Weinhard had a malt house in Dayton, WA back in the 1880s. This malt facility connects us back to our roots!

This project is supporting business expansion and positive economic growth in Columbia County. By leasing a building, the costs of a malting facility are greatly reduced which supports Mainstem Malt’s growth. This project is estimated to create and retain 7 direct jobs, as well as an estimated 8 indirect jobs during construction.  It will also generate considerable tax revenues for the county. The malt facility will continue to contribute value to locally produced barely and opens new markets for farmers in the local region to contract with Mainstem Malt and grow barley that meets their standards.

Phil Neumann CEO & Co-Founder of Mainstem Malt has this to say about the project, “Mainstem came to market in 2016 with the goal of connecting our region’s family farms to craft brewers and distillers, all through a key ingredient in beer and spirits: malted grain. By working with established malting facilities to process our farmers’ grain, we’ve grown into one of just a handful of “craft malt” brands serving the West Coast and feel strongly about our long-term place in this market, but our company’s future became too uncertain without a facility of its own. My outreach to Jennie in 2023 spurred a 12-month planning effort to explore a proper solution with the Port, ideally not just for Mainstem, but for other rural grains businesses facing similar challenges. We all feel like we ended up with something very special that could serve as a model for public-private partnerships in other agricultural regions around the world. We all feel like we ended up with something very special that could serve as a model for similar public-private partnerships in agricultural regions around the world. And the vote of confidence we just received from CERB comes as a tremendous boost to all parties involved as we continue to bring this project to shovel-ready status.”