A recent article looked at the relationship between barley and beer and the economic implications for both Alabama farmers and brewers. Nationally barley production is down; farmers less often use it as feed. One remaining use for barley is in brewing.
Alabama has never been a major producer of barley. Despite the national downturn there has been an increase in barley production in the state. There are over forty brewers in Alabama, and this may be a factor in the increase in barley production.
However, beer requires a higher quality barley than that needed for feed. This combined with the fact that there are not really any maltsters in the state has made barley production more of an aspiration for Alabama farmers than a reality. Brewers used roasted barley or malt in beer production, requiring maltsers to undertake this part of the process. The closest maltster for Alabama brewers is in North Carolina.
Here are some excerpts from Brewing Battles about a prominent patriot who was also a maltster, Sam Adams.
Henry Adams, the great-great grandfather of both John Adams, the second president, and Samuel Adams, noted patriot, emigrated from Somerset County, England with his wife Edith to Mount Wollaston, now Braintree, in the Puritan colony of Massachusetts, around 1636. Henry’s arrival in the New World was twenty-seven years after the Mayflower and seven years after the founding of the Massachusetts Bay Company. He was a farmer.
Henry Adams immigrated to the Massachusetts Bay Colony with his wife, eight sons, and a daughter. The youngest son, Joseph, was born in 1626. As an adult, Joseph pursued his economic livelihood by farming and malting, preparing barley for its use in fermentation and brewing.
Joseph Adams’ malting operations seem to have passed down to Deacon Samuel Adams, father of his namesake, the patriot Sam Adams who was born in 1722. At the time of his birth, settlement in the New World was over one hundred years old and the production and consumption of alcoholic beverages, including beer, was thriving. His father’s malt house generated enough income to provide the family with a house, orchard, garden, and a few slaves.
The Sugar Act brought Sam Adams to prominence as he wrote eloquently in opposition to the tax. Adams was concerned that the Sugar Act represented the first shot in a battle for a widespread taxation system. He argued for individual control over economic activity against the grasp of the British government. “If our trade may be taxed, why not our lands? Why not the produce of our lands and everything we possess or make use of?”
Sam had inherited the malt house on Purchase Street in Boston from his father when he died in 1748. He had not shown any previous aptitude for business and had always been more interested in politics. By the 1760s Sam worked more often as a town tax collector than at the malt house. This position increased his political connections.
The beer ration for revolutionary war soldiers reflected, in part, General George Washington’s fondness for beer. As hostilities heated up between the colonies and Britain prior to the Revolution, patriots such as Sam Adams and others encouraged Americans to “buy American.” Washington, who loved porter and often imported it from England, agreed wholeheartedly. In the 1790s Washington got his porter from Benjamin Morris, a member of the Morris and Perot brewing family.
 “John Adams,” Dictionary of American Biography Base Set. American Council of Learned Societies, 1928-1936. Reproduced in Biography Resource Center, Farmington Hills, Michigan: Thomson Gale, 2006, http://galenet.galegroup.com/servlet/BioRC (accessed March 3, 2006); Benjamin H. Irwin, Samuel Adams, Son of Liberty, Father of Revolution (New York: Oxford University Press, USA, 2002), 6-9, 15.
 James Grant, John Adams, Party of One (New York: Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, 2005), 18.
 Irwin, Samuel Adams, 17.
 Quoted in Irvin, Samuel Adams, 47, 44-45; Baron, Brewed in America, 74-75.
 Irvin, Samuel Adams, 47, 44-45; Baron, Brewed in America, 74-75.
 Baron, Brewed in America, 113-117.