May is hear and summer around the bend! what next

Good day all you fine people who enjoy a good read. Whether it be a mystery, adventure, dime novel, romance or biography it all has something to keep the brain thinking and sometimes the heart pumping. It has been one hell of a ride that has a little bit of everything in it. It has gone from a slow lazy river to a up and down twister of a roller coaster. Where to begin? That always was my problem. How about a good story that weaves it way to a common calm ending? Or we can go slow and steady and build your anticipation? Or we can creep in the back alleys of your mind ripping at the synapses and making them burn with energy.  Style is king and with it we will keep to the script or try something new. It has to grab your attention and make you want to read more either with a beer and hot dog or cup of coffee and danish.

This is in the Philip Marlowe privet eye voice.  ”After the bender of a weekend I had been on it was a wonder that I could think at all.  Who knew that beer could make you sing off key, dance in the rain and talk to unsuspecting dames.  I slept all day and woke with a marching band practicing in my head. The hair of the dog I always say.  The week started off like any other with a visit to my favorite bartender. She was an interesting sort with too many questions and not enough answers and about 50 taps to drown my sorrows. I was working on a case that had me stumped. It started years ago and grew long in the tooth quickly. It should have been a simple case with not too many surprises. It was shiny and easy and looked attainable. But those are the ones that get you. The case had twists and turns sending you down dark alleys, dealing with crooked politicians and big money criminals but now  the leads had gone cold and I was searching for answers. Unless I get a break in the case soon it would have to be put in the file cabinet under unsolved. I’m not complaining. It was something that had to be done like a dog chasing a car. Until I figure it out I’ll sit hear thinking and talking to Sam, she may not have the answers but she has the beer. ”

What do you think? I think it attained the flow of a 1940′s crime novel. I always liked the style of writing. It invoked lots of imagery But it did have some underlying meaning.   That is how it goes now but there are some really cool developments in the story. That’s how they go. It is never just dark (well almost never) there is always a romance, a good friend with sage advice, or the case is solved.

Yes there are stops and starts with everything but when trying something new you have to prepared. The latest was an opportunity out on Long Island that had some of the best attributes that I had seen in awhile. But alas it didn’t come to fruition. It is kind of tough to have an idea that has legs, where you see the validity in it, but you get stymied time and time again. Soon the ideas dry up and with it the passion. Right now it is about ideas! Ideas breed passion! It brings thoughts to life and life to thoughts. Lets work on that and take it from there.

I think with people and input from others it will still work. To my faithful readers if you have any thoughts I am all ears. I actually am all ears. When the wind blows they start flapping and I have to hold onto the trees to keep from flying away. Oh yeah, its true. Seriously, I would love to talk to you and see what we can do. If you want to join in and take some control of parts of it not a problem.  And now some malt stats, where we are and were we are going. How’s that for a comeback blog?

When I started this there were 6 craft malthouses in New York State and a precious few in the country. Now there are 8 operating and another 2 coming on line soon. The number of breweries has increased by over a third thanks to the Farm Brewery Law. In 2018 the Farm Brewers will need to get to the 60 percent mark with local ingredients. That is a huge boon to the malt industry. I’ve got stats coming out the wazoo on this stuff. Pretty exciting times in the industry. I went to some of the breweries over the last few weeks and there are some really good beers being poured locally.

I’m preparing for a meeting to see about land space up in the northern section of New York State. Maybe a change is gonna come. If nothing else a good meeting will bring ideas and thoughts to a stagnant system. If something happens you will be the first to know. We are finally working on the small batch maltster and by Wednesday should have a few pics posted on Facebook for ya. It should be able to hold about 75 to 100 pounds, have an outside heater and blower, thermostatic control and be on wheels. Oooooo, wheels! There is something else that is really cool. I belong to the American Craft Malt Guild and they have something that I was trained in called Malt Sensory Analysis and am an ambassador for it. Pretty cool stuff there too. Now it is out and about to make the contacts and see if anyone want a demo.

Well, Thank you for reading! It might have been long but I hope not too tedious. Have a fantastic day!

 

 

Holy Cow! It has been awhile

Hi folks! Been way too long long since I reached out to you. I was remiss and will try to make amends with a great blog and trying to continue to update you on a regular basis. Where to begin? Well lets start by just jumping right in. I’ll give you a little warm up with some general thoughts then we can get down to what is happening with us and end with a little Ra Ra let’s get it together right down here stuff.

Good day and thank you for reading. I just finished replying to the comments and posts that people had submitted about the blogs and I really appreciate the positive energy that you all shared with me. I think I need to start checking them more often and also blog more to give you updates on the progress, lack of progress, new ideas and a host of other thoughts rolling around my little brain. And believe me there are plenty of thoughts that jump in and out daily. Some are for public consumption and other are more delicate. When was the last post? I think October. It seems like only yesterday the leaves were changing color and the cool breeze was washing over the water. Now the leaves are all off the trees but the cool breeze is still blowing (Can you believe 50 degrees in January?) The climate is changing and it will effect what we all love, beer. So lets start with this thought (definitely for public consumption).

We had planted a few acres each year of barley. It is a tough crop to grow but it is even getting tougher to grow as our climate warms. With the shift in our climate patterns we are experiencing more intense droughts. Long Island and parts of New York State had been under drought warnings and advisories for the last few growing seasons. It has also brought about more intense rainfall events which are happening in the spring at planting time and at harvest when the conditions need to be dry because of disease problems.  Barley is a crop that needs to be planted and harvested on a strict schedule and this disruption can cause many issues such as underdeveloped seed, diseases, lodging and week plants and a host of other issues. If that wasn’t enough to make you grab a hold of your grain bag and the  beer your drinking there is the polar vortexes that hit at importune times killing the young winter crop. This potentially will have an impact on the number of breweries getting Farm Brewery licences due the lack of suitable ingredients.  That is just the barley and only a quick rundown of what our changing climate can do.

There are two other main ingredients to beer that should not be overlooked. Water, water is what makes up the bulk of the beer and with drought reducing the amount available and the increased demand. And then there is hops. It can be irrigated but that is only part of the problem. Increased temperatures at particular times in the cones development can cause off flavors, poor development and growth. Since I like malted grains you can do a little more research on the hops and water. There are plenty of good research sites you can go to such as NOAA. So keep an eye on the research and the steps being taken to help slow CO2 in the atmosphere.

Now to the meat and potatoes of the blog. what have we been up to in the last few months. It has been many many varied things. There has been meetings and legal documents have been filed and the investment paperwork has been completed. This is a load off my mind and the lawyers had been amazing and wonderful to work with. The real estate hunt has been on going but just not the right deal has emerged.  But that may have changed. We have something working now that seems promising and we will tell you about it when we hear. There is a new maltster group starting up in New York for New York Maltsters that seems very promising to spread the word of local grains and malting. We are getting involved as long as we still are working towards our goal. There has been outreach to see about the viability of using spent grain for edible purposes such as veggie burger, soups, scones or bread. I’ve had some and it was good. There has been other activities but they can wait.  Oh, we have officially changed the name to ZHM Malting Inc. And the website will have a new name and address (I guess that’s what its called). So watch for the changes.

Now the shout outs and Ra Ra stuff. New York State has made huge production strides in malt. There are now 10 active malthouses active. I’d like to congratulate all of them on their dedication to getting a product to the producers of NYS beer and beverages. Speaking of beer and beverage    the number of permitted breweries in the United States is now 7,190! That is huge numbers. New York has many new breweries for you to explore and you can link to them by searching for New York State Brewers Association. There is an event i’m looking forward to the New York City Craft Beer Week. It sounds very good.

Have a great day! Wonderful week and beautiful month! If you have any comments please let me know. I look forward to hearing from you. Peace, love, understanding and good beer is my wish for you.

October baby, fall is here! Lets rise up and sing!

It seems like a great day to write a quick blog to update you on what has been happening. I love the fall! It has so many great attributes that we cannot overlook. There is coolness in the air and the trees are changing color. The farm fields are yielding an abundance of fresh amazing vegetables. Broccoli, kale, cabbage, squashes of all colors and types, cauliflower and assorted green and root crops fill the table with goodness. The grain for next year has been planted and is peaking through the moist earth.  It was back to school and there still an inherent feeling that we need to get ready for school. It is kind of like the salmon swimming upstream and the yellow buses flow to the schoolhouse.  It’s in my DNA.

There is something else in my DNA it is creativity and a desire to use my God given talents to make things better. And this project is the outlet of those thoughts.  If this gets going the way its planned it will generate a local economy both for brewers and farmers, help reduce carbon, save soil and educate the population on conservation. If it doesn’t go there will be sadness but at least I learned valuable lessons. I gained enough knowledge to write a book on this stuff. It could be a comedy, horror story (being October it’d be appropriate), or it could be inspirational or all three. And we never know what other opportunities will be around the corner. I fully expect it to go where we need to be. Up running doing its job.

If you have followed these blogs or musings you can see the frustration that starting this has created. You can see how it ran from excitement and movement to grinding it out in the trenches to pure frustrating fits of activity mixed with disillusionment. But that is what to expect. There are phases of entrepreneurship just as there are phases of emotion in death and divorce.  Ya know that I touched on everyone of them and more.  It is said that when starting a business you will go through bouts of depression, anxiety, loneliness and frustration. Check! There will be passion, doubts,  fear and confusion. Check! Sometimes they will hit you all at once and with enough intensity to spoil your confidence. Check! It is good to know that I am like everyone else in this respect. In other ways I stand aside and above. Yes, I went to the darkest part of the path. But there is a light at the end of the tunnel that is not a speeding train coming my way. It is the sunshine of a new day!

The journey is never a waste if you learn by it. It makes you grow and become more aware of the pitfalls and mountains that are needed to climb.  It make you aware of the internal workings and emotions you need to go through to attain your goal. One of the most important things that was learned was to separate  the business from myself. It is an entity unto itself (just ask the Supreme Court).  The thing you need to remember is you have your humanity and vision and if you keep that and not sell it out you win.

Whoa, I sounded like I learned something about myself. It also sounded like the recharged attitude has positive flow to it for the business growth. It took us a long time to get to it but that brings us to the updates I promised about the business. The tanks in PA are just about ours and ready to ship. We have been working on a small personal sized malt machine for the avid home brewers who want more then a commercial malt.  The hunt for property continues. We were close but it got pretty cooky toward the end of contracting.  There are more properties to explore. We have reached out to breweries to see about forming a cooperative malt group. Oh yeah, we changed our name to ZBH MALTING INC. for a couple of reasons. I’ll tell you about that another day. The legal paperwork is finally complete once we get it back from the NYS Department of State. The future has many twists and turns and a new plan has been established but is much like the old plan. The interest in the malthouse is still high. There is a new group we have joined focusing in on NYS Malt. Hmmmm, what else? Well we will expand on the rest in short order.  I can feel good things around the bend! It is your perception that makes the days and night bright.

I wish you peace, happiness, good beer and happy trails until we meet again. Oh you may ask where is the sing part of the tome? It is what ever song you want to shout out. Right now I want to dance dance dance. Feel it and sing it. Let me know your song.

Wow, I’ve seen it all and now…. I need your help

It has been a long time since I have posted here but it has been a strain both mental and physical to try to keep the dream alive and somethings slipped.  Some say it is crazy, some say it is driven and some don’t understand at all. I think it maybe a little of all three. This blog will be a rundown of most of what happened (Most, not all. If you want more we can sit down for a beer or three and talk.), where we are now and how you can help finish this long strange trip. And it has been a long long journey for such a simple idea. The main idea,  if you remember from back in the day, was to open a malt house that would create malt from local grain from local farmers for local brewers. The process is fairly easy, you soak the grain, germinate it, dry it until it is at the right color flavor and moisture level then sell it. Wow, easy as pie.  Was I wrong!

What was the quote from The Great Gatsby about the foul dust floating in the wake of his dream. It seems like that is what I ran into at many turns. Go down one path and it leads to a cliff.  Jump over one tree and notice that there is a pile of crap where you land. Wait for a train and notice it don’t run on that track anymore. It was a fairy tale right out of Grimm’s. But smile and carry on as best you can. Until now. It is going to be the gist of this story. It will be short and succinct and interesting.

I have books filled with notes, names and dates of all we have done. They include anything you can imagine including farmer meetings, conferences from Vermont to New York City to Western New York State, to local  government meetings on all levels, bankers and STARTUP NY, SBA, real estate visits, brewery talks, brew events and lawyer and accountant discussions, national malt meetings and so much more. (That’s the really short version but the long version is full and rich and goes better the more beer we will have.)  Once I settle down I am going to get a dog, sit down with a good beer and start writing of my trials and troubles and fun. That is were I’ve been hiding, in the details. Now if you know me you know that I like to move, groove, smile, enjoy the finer things in life. Not get too deep kind of like the Edie Brickell song about choking me into shallow water before I get to deep. Lets put things in motion, make sure it is going in the right direction and move on to other things.  Couldn’t happen but at least I got a PhD in business life.  Always look on the bright side of life, whistle whistle whistle. That is the gist of where we were. Now it is onto where are and going.

Here we go! The roller coaster that was the past  has taken us to now.  And now has been crazy with a whirlwind of things that should have been taken care of but couldn’t. Things happen in the time things happen. You can’t push or pull because the most you get half the time is a soar back. Right now we have a building  that seems really interesting that I have a planning board meeting for next week. I am waiting on the lease so that is a little nerve wreaking. The grain is looking good and they are harvesting wheat and rye now. The barley should be harvested soon as well. That what is going on now and I will update you on more stuff as it happens. You can follow us on Facebook if you like. I don’t do twitter or snapchat yet so that’s out.

As the great Yankee catcher Yogi Berra said, “It ain’t over ’til its over”.  Thanks for reading! I wish you peace, love and happiness!

Winter planning

Happy Valentines Day! It is that time of year again and there is love in the air. I always thought that this day was started by Hallmark but it more then that. I actually goes back to the Romans and Christian traditions. There are many legends and history of this day. Ya thought that this was going to be about grain? Watch how we bring it all around back to malting. Back to Valentines day. One legend is that it was put in place by the Christian church to supersede a fertility feast in the early Roman times. The other is more plausible and romantic. It is when a Christian priest was jailed by the Romans for preaching about Jesus and healing the sick. in jail he met and healed the emperors daughter of blindness. He fell in love with her and she him. Before he was put to death he wrote a love letter and signed it, ‘Your Valentine.’ We still sign it that way today. So there is your Hallmark moment.  It isn’t just cards we send it is candy, jewelry and flowers.  Speaking of flowers do you know that winter barley needs a period of cold to produce flowers and seeds?  Once harvested those seeds are the basis for malt and for the beer you drink. What do you think? Brought it all home?

That is our quick little history of the holiday but lets get to grain and more importantly were we stand. I was at a meeting and the brewers were very excited about the malt house as they have been for quite some time as we have planned, re-planned and tried to get it together here on Long Island and up in Orange County. The struggle makes us stronger they say but it can also kick your ass and push us to the edge.  Well I am at the edge. There are a few things that are helping keep the faith. Lets go over that as it will have a baring on the future.

Lets start with Orange County. They are great! From the City planner, Ali, to the building and zoning people. All town, cities and villages should have a system like they have. The people at Startup NY have been great, the ESD and Mount Saint Mary’s College have made it easy to move forward. Much better than on this corrupt little island where it seems to come down to  who you know and if it benefits them. It has been a great project for them. I met with the ESD person and he could not have been nicer. Hooking me up with the Community Credit Corp for a line of credit. Looking at other options and suggesting breweries and other buyers and real estate. John has helped move this forward with in the city with the college. This is the best option and we are going forward. But…  it isn’t home. That is a big draw for me and I love having family close. That brings us to the other option that just sprung up.

Patchogue is a little Village on the south shore of LI. I met the Mayor, Deputy Mayor and local Legislator. They are excited about a malt house as a tourist attraction, community benefit and new business. The waste water is a non issue because they have their own sewer system.A person who is in contract for a light industrial building has taken an interest in the malt house and wants it there. I mean really wants it there. We have discussed it numerous times and with each meeting it sounds more interesting. The local IDA (Industrial Development Agency) has met with me and thinks there is something they can do. I have names of other agencies that they partner with to help. It has the pieces but they are still just waiting to be put into the right order. The contract between me and them have to be negotiated and at least gotten. Once there we can start to move forward there. But…Newburgh is a viable and happy option that has its positives and will have to be considered.

The grain is being grown here. We have not seen it I hear its doing well. I was up in Orange County two weeks ago and saw another malt house that is going o be up and running soon and they look great. Lots of grain there. There was an amazing meeting in Oneonta at Hartwick College. The Farmer to Brewer Weekend really was an inspiration and worth the trip. The lessons and meetings with maltsters from around the country was helpful in our thought process. It told me that. “Malt is important and a needed commodity here and everywhere.” People there from all over NYS mentioned that Long Island needs this. And we know that but…you know.

Lets get to the rest of whats going on. Have been working on another part of the grain cycle with a couple people to use the spent grain for multiple uses. It is like the cycle of life. Grow the grain, have it used for brewing then use it as usable product. I hate waste and think that we need to use all we have to its best and proper use.

The syrups are coming along. While the malt house is coming together we wait. So that is were the fresh syrups can play a roll. The class is tough but will be another feather when we eventually move onto the next few phases of the project.

Whoa, this has gotten longer then I wanted. I didn’t mention the lawyers, accountant and people with interest in this thing. As was said, ‘I can write a book.’ Maybe I will. It could be a brief history of me. A sure best seller. But…..It’s time to go and take care of business.

Happy Valentines Day! If you read this after the fact I hope you had the best day ever or you don’t have a honey you just enjoyed your friends and family.

 

Time, time keeps ticking away.

Happy Halloween, Happy Thanksgiving, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! It is a good time to assess the past year. Time has whizzed by since the last time we met. So many things have been happening but it is still taking way too much time to get going.  It has been a long and winding road that takes us here.  I cannot say that it has can’t say it has all been rough road and I can’t say it has all been fun but I can say I have learned a lot, met some good people, some not so good people, have had many ups and downs, traveled throughout the area and heard stories of heartache and trouble starting a business and I have interesting stories to tell as well. The amount of time that goes into this cannot be understated. But now it comes down to where and what we need to do. There has been too many, ‘whoa, this is going to work,’ then, ‘oh shit another issue i’ moments to  count. The up and downs have been killing the dream. That is quite the introduction to where we are going with this post. I will attempt to simply state what has been going on and than where we see it and how you can help. Hope that that sounds good to you cause here we go.

When I started this project it was and is a simple idea. Most brewers grain comes from Canada, Idaho, Montana, Germany and all over the world. So local beer is made here with non local ingredients. I always believed that local food will build the economy of an area, provide fresh taste, and bring a sense of community to the region. New York State passed the Farm Brewery Law to help the farmers, brewers, local communities economy and everyone on the chain to do just that.  The one piece to the puzzle is that is missing was a malthouse. Lets research it and do the number see if this is something that everyone needs and we can make a living at. Okay, there is a need (7 malthouses in NYS when we started to 109 breweries ). It is a simple business. You contract farmers to grow grain, you buy it, you malt it and you sell it. The experience is there with farmers. Long Island and New York City has many many end users.  The family was and is behind it and are the biggest cheerleaders. Talking to the brewers they want and need it and are ready to use it. It can be a great alternate crop for the farmers to grow and produce and they are looking at growing more of it locally. How hard could it be?  Wow, was that a naive and understated idea.

We begin to go full time all the time on it. Malt classes are taken. Contact with farmers, brewers and other malthouse were cultivated. Equipment deals made. Engineers and fabricators contacted. The lawyers were working on the investment contracts. All was going smooth. Then…..as you had read in previous blogs the brakes were slammed on and we came to a screeching sideways skid. I don’t like to be stopped and will try to push the wall down before trying to go around it or over it. So we did hold meetings and discussions and tried to work out the details. Why? is my biggest question. Why do governments municipalities and agencies have issues with simple. Why do the real estate brokers and landlords freak out or see it as a hassle to get this in. Why oh why. I won’t go into that now because you can read all about in the summer post with back and forth discussion of the conversations. I have to say it is a good read. Go back and see where we have been. But suffice to say taking arrows for an idea can take it out of you.

Now! Here and now! Lets see where we go from here. There are options and we need to jump on them or at least figure it all out. We talked with Startup NY and they do not work here on LI but go figure we are on the sweet spot for upstate. They just approved us to enter the program. There has to be paperwork filled out and issues that need to cleared up but it sounds interesting. we will meet with them next week to clear up the details. The Village of Patchogue really really wants us too. There is a building that was just bought and the new owner likes us and is looking at fixing it up for the malthouse. A brewer may want to join us in the building if the price is right. It all needs to be completed within the next two weeks. (Or I will freak out on the time issue again and the blog will not be as nice) The equipment size, weight and water usage is set and we are going to pick up the tanks this month. We have grain growing and bought some rye to malt and sell. We are a member of the American Craft Malt Guild and are on a committee. A quick aside, you should all join! The soda syrups are coming long well. One class from UC Davis and we are in and can produce those tasty bottles of goodness to be used to cook, mix drinks, pour on pancakes or do whatever you want. So there is a lot to look at in the coming year. It is about the details and getting all the ducks in a row. There is a lot to be thankful for. And that is what I keep in mind. We all need to have faith in our dreams and follow it to the end. It will end somehow and if we learn from it and it makes us stronger and we can teach others all the better. Dear reader, after reading this over I see that you see the trials we have seen but the corner is being turned and we don’t know whats there but its something to see. I promise it will not be this long between posts. Have a great day! Be awesome! Show love! Be kind! Enjoy every little thing!

Fall is here!

The temperatures are falling and the grain has been harvested. I love the fall. It has everything you can want in life. it is harvest season from the wineries to the farms. The farms are full of both the last summer vegetables and the fall ones that will sustain us through the winter months. Who can resist pumpkins, squash, kale and other tasty greens. Apples are being picked and cider is being pressed. We are lucky that we live in this area. On Long Island we have some great farmers producing some of the best veggies and fruits in the country. The wine that we have is amazing. We also have the Hudson Valley and all of the farms there. The Hudson River dominates the landscape and the hills surrounding it are full of adventure and new places to explore. The orchards and vineyards are beautiful this time of year on the slopes leading to the valley. And on the beer side it is Octoberfest and beer festivals abound. So many new breweries and beer events from the end of Long Island through New York Cities boroughs to Upstate New York. It is all a short trip away and it is something that you need to do to keep the local farms, vineyards, breweries and businesses thriving. Shop local!

It is fall and we still do not have a malt house local. This is a travesty after all of the time and effort that has been put into it. Winter is around the corner and we need a warm home for this. The cold weather is just around the corner. So in that spirit lets review everything that we have been up to and where we are going in preparation for the season ahead. If you read this and see somewhere you can help let me know. I am looking for people with great, good, moderately interesting or even crazy wild ideas to move us forward. we have been very busy with details but can only go so far without a building to put the grain, equipment, finished malt and test brewery. Lets get to the heart of the matter.

You have heard about  all of the trouble with the local governments not knowing what we do and what we are. Are we light industrial? I guess we could be put into that category. I think it is more Ag Value Processing but that’s me.  Do we need to go before the local Zoning Board to defend and describe our business? I think not but that’s not how it is seen in most towns. It is very simple to normal civilians not in local government. We soak grain, germinate it, dry and clean it. It then goes out the door to whoever needs it.

You have heard about the local Waste Water peoples rules and regulations and the timing of the processes. Why does it take up to 8 months to get a cesspool approved? I don’t know. Why have been told by many many people that Long Island is about the tech and pharmaceutical industries and it might be better to open upstate? Long Island needs small business. It has been proven that it generates more money than the big box stores. All I know is that it is a business idea killer. Make no mistake about it we are on life support here. There is one building that looks great and has amazing potential but if that falls through we have to go.  That is the bad news. Lets go over some positives.

The latest site has sewers, floor drains and a sediment trap! Oh boy that seems like a blessing from business heaven. We have a test sample of water into the Suffolk County Department who deals with that. It was put in last week and we should have results soon. I can’t wait. The real estate broker is working hard to get the buildings zoning and C.O. set. There is a start up brewery who wants to locate with us to take up the extra space. It was just bought and the owner is motivated to rent it. Don’t get me wrong, it does need work. It is an open warehouse that needs insulation, a water heater, electric moved and some other minor changes. It is a waiting game now. The broker is looking into the zoning and speaking to his contact. The brewers are bringing in their contractors. I am bringing in a few as well. The more opinions and quotes the better. It looks good and I am cautiously optimistic. But wait there is more…..order now and you receive this special gift. Okay no special gift but more info.

We have been Upstate New York in Orange County to be exact and…. they want us! I have been speaking with the Orange County Partnership and they have been contacting real estate and local governments and people think that this is a great idea. There have been two solid offers and more that would work. It is only 60 miles from NYC and they have farms that can supply us with grain. Breweries are springing up there as well and the ones there are expanding by making great beer. The rent is cheaper and the life slower. The governments seem to be more welcoming to new businesses. What is not to like? Well it has lots of advantages but Long Island is my home and I like the friends and family I have here. That is why I am giving it one more chance. I’m a sucker.

There has been more info that can be transmitted to you and that will be quick and dirty and if you have questions you can be sent to me. I will also keep updating the facebook page with all the current going ons. We have a lawyer from NYC who is working on the investment options. It is almost ready. We have others looking to invest because it is a great idea and we can have fun with it, help people and make some scratch.  We contacted some breweries who like it and will hopefully buy our grain. We have problems though. We need to buy our grain that we ordered but need the home to put it into. The equipment is ready to get from PA and the design is looking good but as you heard….NEED A HOME for it. It has been ready for awhile but the real estate here has been our main issue. Keep your fingers crossed and send positive thoughts and it will happen. Keep the faith. Go to your local farms. Have a great fall and keep in touch. Peace Love and Happiness to all.

 

Lets review

Before we get to the regularly scheduled blog we bring you a brief message. The phrase, ‘Lets review’, brings back memories of school and lessons learned. It brings back thoughts of some of the teachers who guided me and taught me about the importance of learning by everything you do. Everything is a lesson and everything a chance to grow and become something better. There was the 5th grade teacher who back in those days was the height of cool. An environmentalist with a beard mustache and unkempt hair who taught me the importance of standing up for what you believe in and how important it is to protect the environment.  I remember my 6th grade teacher who was strict but fair. He was a huge man and stern with his demeanor. But if you had a problem or issue he was there with good advice  and would help you through it. There were so many others that help focus me through the years and I respect and appreciate them all. But the biggest influence was my father who’s education went beyond the classroom and would teach me by just being who he was. Appreciate all those people who helped you get to where you are and thank them by being the best person you can be. Reach out to them and tell them they helped you they will appreciate it. And now to what you have all been waiting for…. the blog!

It is the start of September and the kids are going back to school, Labor Day is just around the corner bringing with it the unofficial end of summer, and the Halloween Stores are beginning to open. If I tell you the summer went fast that would be an understatement. There was only a couple trips to the beach, a few kayak adventures, a trip upstate New York but most of the time it was working to get this important piece of the farming and brewing industry together. But it has been a slower than usual process that has me frustrated, aggravated and just plain pissed off. To push and prod and move forward feels like I am running through mud up to my chest and every once in awhile the mud thins to go faster then back to the muck and mire. This Island is not a good place to do business! There are good people here and they try but soooo much is in the way. Lets start by going over the positives.

 

There is so much positive energy coming from Al Krupski Jr of the Suffolk County Legislature. He is a huge proponent of the malthouse and he sees the need to help the farmers and brewers by having a local malthouse. It will not only help keep things local it will create jobs in brewing and farming and give the farmer and additional income stream.  He has even spoken about to the County Executive and press. My hats off to him and his dedication and fore-site in this.

The press! Some people are down on them for the sensational headlines and irrelevant stories but the articles that were written about the malthouse have been terrific. The latest one in Edible East End was very well written and made a case for it here. The one written in May in the Long Island Business News was also amazing and highlighted the issues and problems that were encountered up to that time. (BTW, it has been more of the same since but we will get to that in a second)

The farmers and brewers have been terrific with their support and attitudes. They see the need and how it can help this area create good beer with a local character. The farmers see it as a good addition to the long grown crops. Friends and Family have been amazing in the support of the idea and know it is a great idea that is needed here. Others have been very supportive like the Long Island Farm Bureau, the Suffolk County Department of Economic Development, the local IDA’s and other agencies. But there has been stumbling blocks that have me thinking of off this rock would be easier.

The idea was simple. Bring a malthouse to Long Island to help the local farmers grow an additional crop and help the local farmhouse brewers maintain their licenses. The process is pretty simple. We soak grain, germinate it, dry it and clean and bag it.   It is done by small tanks and small hand processes. Nothing too difficult. But when you get to the local government what we are doing is light industry and the gray water that comes out is industrial waste water. Whoa. How is the process of value added agriculture processing a light industry and grain water the same as mine runoff? The hurdles and hoops that was in the way is crazy. That brings us to the real estate. Some buildings are the right size, some to big, some too small. That is the nature of it. The problem lies in the fact of cesspools and sewers. The timing of the licenses and other matters that are related. I have been close many times but…… no go. So after this latest setback it has me thinking of other areas and alternatives.  I like this area. I am a Long Islander. I was born in Mineola and raised in Bellmore. My family and friends are here. This is a difficult decision.  I have been told that it probably is the best move to leave and start fresh somewhere else.

If you have any ideas or comments let me know. I am open to suggestions and thoughts from all you good people. Have a great day! Hope you find peace and happiness in all you do.

Summer quickly moves

I was reminded that I have not written a blog for about 6 weeks and it was about time to get one out to the many fans of these missives. I hope that this message finds you well and your summer was fun and full of exciting things activities. The weather was amazing here on Long Island for all types of outdoor activities, especially the greatest resource, the beaches. I made it there twice and it was wonderful. The sea breeze cooled the  air temperature down 5 degrees from the mainland, the water was a refreshing 72 degrees, the sun was soothing and the air fresh with the salt smell I remember from my youth.  If you have not gotten to the beach it is a perfect place to enjoy, think and reflect. It is perfect to ride waves and cool off. You can watch the families with young children who are seeing the ocean for the first time. They either laugh or cry at the feel and sound of the waves. You can see the sea gulls swoop down at unprotected sandwiches and fly away with a flock of his brothers trying to steel it.  So many great memories and times were there.  It sounds like I am about due for another trip.  But until then let me update you on what we are doing.

Lets get to the heart of the matter and where we stand. There is good news, bad news and no news to report. I know that that sounds kind of odd but we have been super busy with all things malt house. Lets start with the closest event and work back the 6 or so weeks to see how we got here.  The barley is looking pretty good and has a moisture content that is perfect for holding and storing. It will be ready to harvest within the next couple of days. Our beautiful beach weather was also perfect to dry grain but not so good to grow it.  It was a tough year and the volume looks like it is going to be low. Once harvested we need to send sample to the University of Vermont for testing to check the protein levels, germination rate, fuserium head blight content and other very necessary parameters.  So there are both good and bad on the grain front. The Long Island cereal rye tested amazingly well and we had contracted out and will be buying some of that to malt. The wheat wasn’t as good but still pretty nice.

Listening to other people out there in other parts of New York State and Pennsylvania they have had too much rain and some of the crops are not harvest-able or they are not of malting quality so our grain maybe more valuable then originally expected.

We also reached out to a malt house in PA to maybe custom malt for us in case we are not up and running too soon. Speaking of that….

We have a contract out for a site that looks like it will work but unfortunately it is too big and we are looking for someone to take over about 1,000 square feet of the building.  A few things still needs to be negotiated and the lawyer needs to help with this part of the process. The cost is prohibitive for the building as it currently stands so we need to talk about the price per square foot. That is one of the projects that need to be done today. Get the lawyer some information so we can get it done. Have feelers out there for someone to use the extra space. I’ll let you know if we get it together by shooting off fireworks everywhere.  Keep your fingers crossed. If you have any contacts or information on buildings available let me know quickly. I still m in the hunt.

The malt house gray water issue is still going and going. We are trying to get it to be able to be spread on the fields or on lawns as a natural enhancer but getting nowhere with it. The New York Department of Conservation says it is okay and so does the New York State Department of Ag and Markets. I am just waiting for word from the Suffolk County Department of Health, Waste Water. There are plenty of people trying to get the answer to it. Lets hope it happens soon. I am just looking for that as an option and make the malt house more sustainable.

We met with a couple of lawyers in NYC that are very good and will help organize the get the investment paperwork complete for those who have an interest in helping build the malt house. It was a great meeting with a couple of very interested and interesting  people willing to take time to move this project forward. And speaking of that had a very quick but moving meeting with a business leader who imparted some good advice.  She said, ‘Work hard, continue to move forward, the concept is good but on Long Island you need to make friends with the politicians. Wink wink, nod nod.’ Hmmmm that is just too much to handle. Another good piece of advice is to change the conversation and take control of the situation by using the most positive outlook possible. This I like.

For the rest of the time it has been meetings, real estate appointments, emails, meetings and more activity that takes an inordinate amount of time. So you can see that we have been moving ahead but at a pace not as quickly as I want or anybody could have imagined. I still get plenty of support from people who like  beer and the idea of a malt house local and sustainable. We even made another local magazine, Edible East End with a very good article. http://www.edibleeastend.com/2015/08/10/long-island-malt-coming-soon/

We also have  a local Legislator in our corner who mentioned us at a press conference for local brewers and the County Executive. There is support for us but as they say the devil is in the details.  We have plenty of positives but just need then to come together. Keep the faith that we will be opening soon and you will be drinking beer made with our malted grains.  Remember without farmers you would not be enjoying your favorite beverage. Peace, love and happiness to you all!

 

 

Update for Summer and All It Brings

The length of the days grow longer and longer and the seeds of spring are growing taller as we watch. The air that was once cool now is full of heat and humidity that can slow our pace. Although this year the nights remain chilly and damp. The lazy days of summer will be upon us in no time. Time is a friend that can either walk along with us or run past us.  For me it is a time to reflect on the progress that we have made and what has been our biggest issues. This blog will be a quick (as brief as I can be when I write these things) review of the past years worth of work. It had many ups and many downs. A roller coaster of emotion and thoughts. Some days it is move move and never stop and others its what the hell am I doing on this island. So lets start the brief overview of the process and were we stand.

Well, how do we begin? There is a jumble of emotions and ideas that are floating through my little brain. In the last blog you heard about our philosophy and how we do not feel that it is just a business but way to connect all of the parts of the process. The farmers and brewers connect and the people can connect to the local food and grains. It is about sustainability and local and everyone working together to make it a better place. Sounds good but there are the devilish details. The biggest and I mean BIGGEST has been the local governments and real estate and what we are trying to do. I think that I have been to every office in every town on Long Island. I have a first name basis with the waste water people in Suffolk County. I have been to the supervisors offices, saw the IDA people numerous times, the Startup NY program is a sham, each planning department is similar, the zoning boards are interesting, the state and county departments have a certain take on it. Everyone likes the idea once they understand it. But….and this is a big but, they cannot help but to offer the long forms and address to write the numerous checks. As my friend says as long as you know someone, are in the party or pay the juice your golden.

I have heard from many businesses and they all say the same thing. If I knew what I know now I would not have opened here. That is a sad commentary on the process. New York good for business is just words. You can see the frustration. The malt house is simple. We grow local grains, soak for 16 hours in a 48 hour period, germinate them, dry them with low heat and bag them. What the hell can they not understand about that. Oh, well that was my little rant about local governments. I am waiting now for the Town of Babylon Panning commission to get back to me about a meeting for a really nice spot with sewers and city water. We could be in soon or at least on the way to build out and storage capacity for the wonderful crops being grown for us.

Speaking of crops. The Wintmalt was beaten by the harsh winter we had this year. It was about a 60 percent loss. It was decided that it was not worth harvesting. It looked great in the fall but in the spring it did not come back the way we wanted. The spring crop of 5 different varieties was planted but as with everything in farming nature can be rough. It was planted but the drought lay the seed dormant until 2 weeks later. Now, however, it is doing very well and looking like it should. we have video and pictures throughout the process and will compile a video titled, ‘From field to pint’. Hey if you are going to grow and start an industry lets have fun.

The rest of the process is going well. If you keep up with the Facebook you can see the nearly daily updates. The stainless steel tanks have been ordered. The engineering is looking good and the fabricator is on board. when the space is secured we are ready to, as Clyde would say, start movin’ and grovin’, hustling and bustling, and posting and toasting. Gotta love that guy. They do not make them like that anymore. It was the Scooter for the Yanks and Clyde for the Knicks.

We have been doing some home malting and they have been doing really well. Made plenty of beer with the local grains and they have been well excepted. Took them to a few fairs and festivals as well as to the bars for sampling and it seems to be something we should be able to sell.

That is the simple blog for today to give you a feel for whats going on. It has been busy and frustrating and worrisome but one day it will payoff and it will help the farmers, brewers, distillers, bakers, local economy, and all those with a penchant for sustainability.

Remember it is summer so get out there and enjoy yourself. Hear some live music. Dance in a sprinkler. Enjoy your friends and family. Go to a farm stand or market. Go to a local brewery and drink a good local beer. Support your local economy. Prost!