Doug and Gabi Michael are passionate about making malt from Barley.
The Michael family has been growing malting barley for five generations near Dunsandel in Canterbury. The barley was always processed off farm until 2003, when they decided to build a state-of-the-art malt house in a paddock near the farmyard.
Their goal was to have full control of the malting process from sowing barley to delivering freshly made malt to brewers, so they invested in four kilns, two steeps, a huge custom made roaster and a laboratory for developing natural colours and flavours from the malt for craft brewers.
As the business grew they gradually ended their sheep farming operation and converted every bit of the flat 165 hectare farm to year-round barley crops, which are planted in spring and autumn and harvested during the summer.
Building the business from scratch has been a labour of love for Gabi, a trained vet who hails from Brazil and Doug who is the first to admit he had second thoughts along the way.
" It hasn't been an easy road and I must admit there have been a fair few times when I thought to myself we should've been milking cows instead of making malt, but at the end of the day it's been successful and looking back it was certainly worth it."
Word of mouth has had a huge impact on the business. Reports of the exceptional quality of Gladfield Malt and how brewers are able to work with Doug and Gabi to develop a new colour or flavour for their beer spread quickly. They now supply malt to about 90 percent of craft breweries around New Zealand.