The craft brewing industry in Michigan is growing at an astounding rate, with over 150 breweries already in production. The economic windfall of this phenomenon has been a tremendous asset to our agriculturally-rich state, which touts the second most diverse line-up of agricultural products in the country. The state’s brewing industry contributes over $232 million in wages with a total economic impact of more than $608 million. In terms of overall number of breweries, microbreweries and brewpubs, Michigan ranks fifth in the nation – thus supporting its claim as “The Great Beer State.” It is quite evident that the craft brewing industry is a mainstay in the economy.
Consumers that have fueled the upward trend in craft beer consumption are now seeking a more locally sourced product. As in the entire food industry, the concept of local food has generated a high level of interest and demand. In response, farmers throughout Michigan want to grow malting barley to supply this demand. MSU UPREC conducts research to support the growth of malting barley acres in Michigan, especially in the Upper Peninsula. In addition to variety trials, management practices such as fertility recommendations and fungicide use have been studied. In order for the malting barley industry to thrive in Michigan, suitable processing is also necessary, so much support has also been given to the start-up malthouses throughout the state.