On Striving, Failing, and Refocusing... Collaboration.

Mainstem Malt's gearing up to release its debut products! If all goes according to plan, we’ll have a couple different malts hitting the market this fall, and to this I owe a host of supporters and fans. Simply put, I would have long since shelved this dream without your encouragement and help along the way. I’d like to take this time check in, to thank you all, to share my perspective on Mainstem’s fast-evolving business model, and to extend my utmost enthusiasm for what’s to come.

My vision for Mainstem Malt was born in 2014. It was a landmark confluence of my love of agriculture and water resources management. Our “craft malt house” would link the booming craft beer, spirits, and bread industries to on-farm water conservation work. The resulting economic engine would power us towards a brighter vision for agriculture. It would yield supply chain water savings that no brewer, distiller, or baker could ever achieve in-house. It would attract, educate, and empower people otherwise removed from agricultural realities. It would be a remedy for the often siloed water conservation work I witnessed since embarking on my career in water.

For the past two years, I worked without pause to transition Mainstem Malt from vision to reality. I look back at many little victories and meaningful connections made. But my front line was always to secure financing for our facility. Malting is a high capital endeavor and my desire to start at a natural resource-significant scale meant raising a substantial amount of money. Without going into gory detail, a lagging fundraise finally came unraveled in August. The dreams of locating our own facility in Milton-Freewater, Oregon faded back into the ether.

Every cloud has a silver lining if viewed from the right angle. I took a step back and worked alfalfa seed harvest, logging two weeks straight in a hillside combine. I meditated on how to pivot and salvage my dream. And so the dream came back into focus. Rather than having our own capacity, we would work on a collaborative basis with a number of other malt houses. The shift would free us to access and celebrate more of the exciting developments within the craft malt industry. It would concentrate our efforts on forging cohesive supply chain alliances with farmers, conservation groups, maltsters, and supporters in the craft food and beverage industries.

Mainstem Malt’s new model continues to take shape and build momentum. We have some exciting news coming down the pipe and I look forward to keeping you all apprised. There are very real challenges ahead of us, but I have faith that opportunities for growth and refinement will roll out in front of the Mainstem mission. For Malt That Matters.

With a passion,

Phil Neumann