he replied with slight apprehension.
I had just pitched my new malt house business plan to a seasoned farmer whose family has worked Rowan County land for generations. I knew going into it that he might need convincing. If we didn’t share community ties, he probably wouldn’t have even entertained the idea.
But if we wanted to produce locally grown malt, we couldn’t do it without locally grown grain, so the farmer’s commitment was vital. I was asking him to have faith in us and take a chance on a new crop. I told him about the craft beer boom in North Carolina, and that the brewers were importing all their malt even though we had the perfect conditions to grow it here. He seemed intrigued.
“I’m listening,” he said.
Fast forward a few years to our annual grower’s appreciation dinner, the first since we became fully operational. I poured my friend a golden straw-colored draft out of a beat up old kegerator we have at the malt house. “That’s your barley in there,” I said to him. His typically stoic expression morphed into a grin. He sipped his beer, recalling all the early mornings and hard work that he put into that glass. “Not bad,” he joked, and that was all I needed to hear.