Awesome Farm to Tap program launches in Pennsylvania to cultivate hyperlocal beers

Food21 of Pennsylvania wants to demonstrate the power of connecting local farms’ productive capacity to one of the fastest growing industries in the region – craft brewing. Last year it launched Farm to Tap, a pilot program that creates a hyperlocal value chain from farms to malt houses to regional craft brewers.

“This is mutually beneficial to all links in the regional craft beer food chain. Significantly, when Food21 commits to a $3,000 investment in seed excluding our indirect costs, we deliver to the state’s economy over $20 million in direct revenue benefit,” says Food 21’s President Joe Bute. 

On April 17, All Saints Brewing Co. in Greensburg, Pa., will serve Old Hanna’s Town Ale, the region’s first craft beer entirely produced through local partnerships.

“We were excited when Food21 approached us to participate in Farm to Tap,” said Jeff Guidos, Founder and Brewer at All Saints Brewing. “Our motto is ‘fresh, pure and local,’ and we take pride in making local craft beers. But, some of the components we use to make our beers here in Greensburg are not locally sourced.”

Guidos typically relies on German and other European companies for his malt. “Through Farm to Tap, we formed local partnerships to develop Old Hanna’s Town Ale. In fact, the farm where much of the barley was grown is next to our brewery; I drove past it every day and watched it grow. CNC Malting Company, our first local malting partner, is about an hour from here. It doesn’t get any more local than that!”  

Vince Mangini, Food21 coordinator for value chain initiatives and team leader of Farm to Tap, explains what the pilot program accomplished: “With a team of experts – from agronomy and agriculture to malting and marketing to the vibrant craft brewing community – this project is demonstrating what others have talked about but have not done. We leveraged our region’s assets – human and economic – in sustainable ways. This demonstrates the power of the Farm to Tap concept.” 

According to Mangini, “Food 21’s Farm to Tap program continues. The next barley crop is already in the ground at several Westmoreland County farms, and we anticipate that it will be sufficient to yield the equivalent of 1.5 million bottles of beer.”

“Demonstrating the breadth of this effort is as powerful as any other aspect because it demonstrates what we mean by a value chain,” Mangini says.

Mangini emphasized that the project’s success is a product of the support of Food21’s partners: Greg Phillips, District Manager/CEO of the Westmoreland Conservation District; Linda Box, Chairman and CEO of the McKenna Foundation; Brendan and Oana Carroll, Founders of CNC Malting Company; participating farmers, Heinnickel Farms; and Fred Slazek, who consulted on the supply chain components.

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