With a reputation for exceptional quality, Australian malting barley is in strong demand at home and abroad.

Story + Photos Nathan Dyer

On a bright spring day at Whitton in the NSW Riverina, Stu Whytcross watches as a yellow crane lowers a huge steel vat into place at one of the country’s fastest growing malting facilities, a stone’s throw from the mighty Murrumbidgee River.

Just seven years since its establishment by Stu and business partner Brad Woolner, this latest expansion will increase Voyager Craft Malt’s capacity to 10,000 tonnes per year. That’s a long hop from the one-tonne-a-week unit the boys designed and built themselves to get the show on the road back in 2013. Stu says the demand is unbelievable. “We’re constantly getting inquires, particularly from Asia and also from the States,” he says. “But at the moment we’re struggling to keep up with local demand.”

A big part of that has been the growing interest in provenance among Australia’s craft brewers and distillers that use the malt, and the consumers who drink the beers and spirits they produce. Voyager sources 95% of its malting barley locally and every bag of craft malt has a QR code that links it to the paddock the grain was grown in and the farmer who grew it. “People are wanting to know more about the products they’re eating and drinking,” Stu says. “And that’s starting to flow over into craft beers and premium Australian spirits. It’s just a natural progression – people want to know who the farmer was and where the grain comes from.” 

This story excerpt is from Issue #141

Outback Magazine: February/March 2022