Root Shoot Malting of Loveland, Colorado, recently announced the release of a rare malted heritage grain, Ölandsvete, or Oland Wheat. This passion project has been more than two years in the making and resulted from a cross-sector collaboration inspired by family history.
This history of farming Oland Wheat goes back for centuries, and today there are only a few farmers in the world who grow the variety. Now, one is Olander Farms in Loveland, Colorado, home base for Root Shoot Malting— quite possibly the only malthouse in the world to malt this variety.
Oland Wheat is named after a Swedish island in the Baltic Sea where this variety was first grown over 6,000 years ago, and from where the Olander’s ancestors migrated in the 1800’s. The grain nearly disappeared from Swedish fields in 1960 until 1995, when it was reintroduced to encourage the rediscovery of sourdough bread making.
The Olanders’ ties to Oland and thirst for innovation ignited their pursuit to bring a rare heritage grain to Colorado’s craft brewing and distilling community. Finnriver Grainery in Chimacum, Washington, who provided the seed via the Washington State University’s Bread Lab breeding program, made that possible. Olander Farms grew ten acres of the grain in 2019, another twenty acres in 2020, and plans to grow another twenty acres in 2021.
“I’m excited to taste these craft beverages, and wouldn’t be surprised if they have a hint of coastal wind-swept-Sweden in their flavor profile,” joked Keith Kisler, founder of Finnriver Grainery, in a press release. “Heritage grains can thrive in low input organic environments, so farmers can go lighter on fertilizers and herbicides and still grow a viable crop full of flavor and nutrition. The way heritage grains adapt and survive tells us so much about the landscape and people.”
At The Family Jones Spirit House in Denver, head distiller Rob Masters uses this heritage wheat for his single-estate Annika Jones Vodka, crafted with 60% Oland Wheat. He describes the flavor profile as sweet, with a hint of honeydew melon. “Utilizing heirloom grains was especially important to the flavor development for this vodka,” said Masters, in a press release. “The fact that this variety came from Scandinavia, grown by farmers with Scandinavian ancestors, for a distiller with Scandinavian ancestors in a Scandinavian style vodka was a win all around.”
Root Shoot Malting has lastly partnered with Lake Hollow Homestead, a garlic farm in Berthoud, Colorado, that sells Root Shoot grains to homebrewers, to also make Oland Wheat available in flour form to use in baking. Three-pound bags of fresh-milled Oland Wheat flour are now available for purchase through Lake Hollow Homestead’s Online Store.
Ölandsvete malted wheat is available to commercial brewers and distillers in limited quantities. To order, please contact Emily Olander by email at email@example.com.