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Facilities - Chilton Malthouse

Briess - divider line

As far back as anyone in Chilton can recall it's always been called "The Malthouse" by locals. Built in 1901, the flagship production facility of Briess Industries, Inc. boasts a quintessential rural American beginning and sometimes sketchy past. Did it operate non-stop during Prohibition or not? Depends upon who you ask at the local coffee shop.

But one thing is certain. Today the Briess Malthouse in Chilton, Wisconsin, is the most unique, specialized malthouse in North America, handcrafting more styles of malt than any malting operation in the world. From it comes such unique specialties as Carapils® Malt, Victory® Malt and Dark Chocolate Malt.

Size matters

Increased global demand for beer and the construction of large breweries throughout the world have greatly increased demand for base malts. The result has been the construction of massive malthouses dedicated to producing it.

Specialty malts, meanwhile, are produced in small batches. That allows for careful, hands-on attention to the intense to extreme temperatures and humidities employed during the specialty malting process. The result is consistent and full-flavored specialty malts that give brewers more control over the finished beer.

Specialized drying equipment

Setting the The Malthouse apart as truly unique are the kiln and roasters that have been custom designed and installed, making the facility perfectly suited for the production of a wide variety of specialty malts. The drying equipment is fed daily with batches of germinated barley from the eight original Saladin germination compartments. Modern testing equipment at critical points in the process monitor moisture content and temperature.

Then there's the elevator, lab and packaging system

The elevator, also constructed in 1901, is where finished malts are cleaned and then stored in one of 79 storage bins. A fully equipped and staffed lab is an integral part of quality control in the The Malthouse. The lab performs chemical and physical testing on all raw materials received, and at critical points during the malting process. A fully automated packaging system maintains 50-pound bag weights to within +/- ounces for consistent brewhouse performance.

What you get for $100,000

For a group of Chilton businessmen in 1901, it got them a malthouse. The investors had banded together and organized the Chilton Malting Company to give local farmers a place to sell their barley, and to create jobs.

"Not to mention the City of Chilton will benefit for a number of years in social and hospitality bearing a good name," The Wisconsin Demokrat wrote about the venture on January 24, 1902.

According to the article, if another group of citizens had had their way at the time, the structure would never have gone up. "Thanks to the thrifty undertaking spirit of a number of outstanding businessmen of Chilton, a work came into existence contrary to the knockers. Such persons even when they are convinced that any undertaking is to the benefit of the city, through word and deed tried to prevent the completion."

The names of the knockers weren't mentioned. But the article recorded some fascinating construction statistics:

"On April 11, 1901, ground work began for the elevator and malthouse at the same time work began on the sidetrack. It took about four weeks. On May 8, work was started on the foundation which took about five weeks; it took 66 carloads of stone.

"On July 1, masoners started laying brick which took 1,145,000 bricks for the malthouse.

"In about six weeks the elevator was completed. It took 1,045,000 feet of lumber which was furnished by the Dorschel, Schultz & Company.

"The iron and construction work was furnished by Saladin Prinz Pneumatic Company and A. Plomanden Mfg. Company of Chicago, Illinois. 436 tons of iron were used.

"The whole plant is without a doubt one of the finest and best equipped establishments in the state. As stated above, little Calumet County and especially the City of Chilton, can be proud to have members in their midst that took such a daring undertaking."

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Briess Malthouse in Chilton, Wisconsin

Original "Chilton Malting Company" letters on malthouse in Chilton.

Basement of elevator.