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Good Beer Hunting

Apr 20, 2024

Hillary Barile isn’t sure what she’d call herself first: a farmer or a maltster. In reality, she’s both, working as a fifth generation farmer at Rabbit Hill Farms & Malthouse in Shiloh, New Jersey. There, she and members of her family produce barley and other crops, as well as run a small-scale malthouse that supplies ingredients for breweries and distilleries. And, as president of the Craft Maltsters Guild Board of Directors, she works to educate and grow the craft malt community across North America and beyond. 

So why, and how, did she make the jump from farming pottoes to investing in the agriculture and future of craft malt? It started with homebrewing, of course, with aspirations of opening a brewery to diversify and solidify her farm’s finances. But, as she explains in this episode, the business plan never got that far. As for what’s next, she says the breweries prioritizing local craft malt can tell unique stories that still reach the hearts of drinkers, giving them a small, but sufficient shield against difficult economic forces. We also discuss the many definitions of the word “sustainable,” and the efforts she’s making to ensure generations to come will still have the opportunity to nurture the land her family has cultivated.