Travel through our journey from exporter of Czechoslovakian malt to North America’s leading producer of specialty ingredients for the food, pet food and brewing industries.
Ignatius Briess malted Czechoslovakian grown Moravian barley, some of the highest quality malting barley grown in the world at the time.
Wars result in the business relocating to the United States.
Today, Briess malts some of the highest quality malting barley grown in the world. It is grown in the unique and rich Bighorn region of Northwestern Wyoming and Southern Montana.
Ignatius Briess, a grain trader living and working in his homeland of Moravia, Czechoslovakia, knows Moravian malt is recognized throughout the world for its exceptionally high quality. Demand for it is strong. So, he builds a malthouse, and Ignatius and cousin Wilhelm Briess begin advertising their “Prima-Malz” for export.
Second generation Rudolf Briess specializes in exports to Germany, Belgium, the United States and Latin America. The business gains worldwide recognition as a reputable supplier of high quality malt. He also develops a malted barley flour ingredient for bakeries he brands and markets as “Maltoferm,” and adds a brewhouse for the production of malt extract.
Unrelated to the activities of the Briess family in Czechoslovakia, a group of businessmen in a small rural Wisconsin town pools resources to build a malthouse. It provides local farmers with a place to sell their barley, and jobs for the locals. In time, the Chilton Malting Company will play a pivotal role in the Briess family malting business. This artist’s drawing of the malthouse and elevator is from a 1909 postcard.
During the early part of the 20th century, war along with political and economic unrest decimate the Briess family malting business. Third generation maltster/brewer Eric Briess immigrates to the United States, where he begins exporting domestically produced Briess malt to customers whose sources of malt had been cut off as a result of the war.
Eager to grow business, Eric establishes a relationship with the Chilton Malting Company in Wisconsin, acquiring its full capacity and implementing improvements to increase capacity and product mix. K-Ball Roasters from the G.W. Barth Company of Germany are installed for the production of roasted caramel malt.
More K-Ball Roasters are added, bringing the number in operation to four. Churning out 600-pounds of roasted caramel malt per batch, the K-Balls perform all roasting duties until the 1970s, when larger and more efficient drum roasters are installed. Equipment and process upgrades during the 1960s triple export and domestic shipments.
Trained at the famed Weihenstephan University in Germany, fourth generation maltster/brewer Roger Briess continues the family malting tradition after Eric Briess passes away. A visionary, he is the first maltster to recognize the potential of the emerging American Craft Beer movement.
The Briess family acquires Chilton Malting Co., and Roger Briess changes the focus of business from exporter to a domestic maltster producing specialty malts for American Craft Beer. Already experienced in specialty malt production, the company installs more drum roasters and expands its specialty malt portfolio.
Roger Briess makes Briess Malting Co. the first maltster to offer 50-pound bags of malt, preground malt, CBW® pure malt extract and a silo installation program to craft brewers. These innovations decrease start-up costs and solve challenges of small-scale craft beer production, greatly contributing to the growth of Craft Beer. Roger Briess also revives the Maltoferm® brand, this time as a line of pure malt extracts for baked goods and other foods, positioning Briess as a specialty ingredient supplier to both the American Craft Beer and Food Industries.
Insta Grains® is commissioned in 1990. Named for its signature product line of pregelatinized grains, the facility also produces brewers flakes that eliminate the need for cereal cookers in breweries. In 1995, malting capacity more than doubles when a second malthouse is purchased in Waterloo, WI. In 1997, roasters are added at that location.
With the unexpected death of Roger Briess on April 25, the family reaffirms its commitment to continued family ownership, craft beer and the food industry with Monica Briess at the helm. Monica delivers the same vision and commitment which Roger held dear.
The following year, a state-of-the-art 500bbl brewhouse/starch conversion plant is commissioned. Based on Monica’s and Roger’s vision, the commissioning brought malt extract and malted milk powder production onsite for complete quality control. To better reflect its position as a supplier to beer and food, the company name becomes Briess Malt & Ingredients Company.
A modern elevator and seed plant located in the Bighorn Basin of northwest Wyoming are acquired by Briess. The region is a semi-arid, flood-irrigated agricultural region known for producing some of the highest quality malting barley in the world. It connects Briess and its customers with more than 300 experienced barley growers, assuring Briess a consistent supply of barley for the future.
In order to secure complete control of the company’s barley supply chain, the Briess family approves the acquisition of an expansive grain processing operation in Manitowoc, WI, close to the Chilton campus. Included are a 244′ elevator with cleaning and grading capabilities, onsite labs and grain storage. It is connected by rail to Briess operations in Wyoming and Wisconsin for improved quality and more efficient transportation of raw barley.
Briess recommissions a large malthouse on its Manitowoc property, more than doubling malting capacity. Simultaneously, to accommodate increased acreage by Briess barley growers in Wyoming and Montana, 1.5 million bushels of storage is added in Wyoming. A third roaster is added to the Waterloo Malthouse, bringing the number of roasters operated by Briess to seven.
Under the continued ownership and leadership of Monica Briess and fifth generation Craig Briess, the 140-year-old family malting tradition is celebrated with the release of a limited edition Moravian Malt — a nod to its rich Czechoslovakian heritage.
The five-story addition more than doubles capacity and expands technology to include validating the production of ingredients. It also includes additional processing equipment, an automated packaging line with robotic palletizer, and enhanced gluten free processing.