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… we emerged on a vast floor covered with quite a sea of flying barley undergoing the preliminary treatment known as sweating. Here the barley is sprayed on a kiln with the metal flooring composed of what is known as Herrmann’s wedge wire…. At Ryburgh is the largest floor room in the world. … The last stage in the transformation of barley into malt is the kiln drying. In rooms heated by eight fierce furnaces, John Barleycorn is sprayed to undergo the fiery ordeal, which draws out his sweetness and prepares him to unite with hops and so form the national beverage. – Eastern Daily Press, 1899


Historical Picture of Crisp Malt Factory 1904Brothers Frederick and George Smith started malting at Great Ryburgh back in 1870 and quickly built up a collection of malting sites spread across the Norfolk countryside, tapping into the region’s sea and rail links for transport and the reliable barley crop which has sustained us for generations.

While the Smith family name was replaced when John Crisp bought into the company in 1970, the brothers’ legacy remains in our No.19 floor maltings, one of only three remaining floors in England.

Floor malting is our time-honoured and deeply traditional way of handcrafting malts, using techniques our Master Maltsters have passed down through the generations. The same original methods as were used in the 19th century – with the added benefit of air conditioning for the warm summer months and the switch from coal to gas for heat – are used to create our four heritage malts.

The luxury of time is crucial to the success of floor malting. Given the vastly different malting characteristics of the heritage varieties and the crop years, we have to adjust our process as we move through the malting steps each year. This is where the skill of our maltsters comes into play.

During germination, our team walk the floor several times a day, checking the progress of germination. Using hand and eye, the malsters examine progress using the “maltsers rub”; examining how gummy the starchy endosperm is as the cell walls are broken down throughout modification. Once it produces a smooth paste by rubbing the kernel between the thumb and forefinger, it’s ready for kilning. They can feel the heat in the grain, adjusting their “couches” – piles of malt – to change the temperature in the grain bed. The only modern technology at this stage is that of a temperature probe placed in the grain during germination.

Kilning is another stage where time is valued. Since the kiln has only a natural draft chimney on it, the process takes two or three days compared to one on the modern plant. This allows for fine temperature control and a more gentle kilning, preserving the nuances of flavour from these heritage grains.

We’re pleased to count some of the most well-renowned and influential distilleries and breweries across the world as regular customers of our floors including our Japanese Distilling friends at Venture Whisky. We’re proud to be associate members of the Craft Maltsters Guild in the USA and we regularly present on floor malting at their annual conference. We’re regularly visited by fledgling craft malting companies from across the globe and we share our knowledge with the next generations of maltsters who are looking to revive this time honoured tradition before it dies out completely.

Explore our Floor Malts

Stage One

Steeping Making Malt | Crisp Malt


Much like with conventional malting, at No. 19 the batch of barley is selected and hydrated using up to three immersions in fresh water over 24 hours.

We adjust the temperatures and the timing of wet and dry stages depending on the type and maturity of the barley and the final specification of malt we want.


Stage Two


The wet barley is spread onto the three floor at No19. Initially in “couches” to preserve heat and then it is “drawn out” using rakes. Over five to seven days – depending on the season and barley variety – it is turned regularly to aerate, control the temperature and prevent the rootlets from matting together.

Internally, the grain is undergoing “modification” as a cascade of enzymes released by the embryo, break down the cells walls of the starchy endosperm.

Germination | Making Malt | Crisp Malt

Stage Three

Kilning | Making Malt | Crisp Malt


Each floor is combined in the natural draft kiln and is dried over two to three days, depending on the malt type we are trying to produce. We produce just eighteen tonnes per batch.

Gentle heat is applied for distilling and extra pale malts to preserve the enzymes. Alternatively, a more aggresive heat is used to increase colour for ales malts or even to push into the Vienna and Munich color range, where melanoidin reactions occur, enhancing malt flavours.

Our Malts

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