Fife farm taps into beer boom with craft malting venture

A fifth-generation working family farm in Fife has launched a craft malting business to tap into the boom in artisan brewing and distilling, thanks to a six-figure funding package.

Alison Milne and family on their farm. Picture: Granite Creative

Crafty Maltsters, which operates from A Milne and Sons Farm, located on the outskirts of Auchtermuchty, has used the funding to purchase the equipment needed to produce local craft malt for Scotland’s brewers and distillers.

Alison Milne, a former commercial director at NFU Scotland, and her husband Daniel took over management of A Milne & Sons from Daniel’s parents in 2014 and have been examining ways to diversify and add value to their existing arable and livestock enterprise.

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The £500,000 funding package secured with HSBC UK includes a new loan and overdraft facility, enabling the family to build a new 3,000 square foot on-site shed for additional grain storage and processing.

Alison Milne, owner of Crafty Maltsters, said: “After studying the malting supply chain we spotted a gap in the market for small-scale malting providers that can guarantee quality, locally-sourced malt for brewers and distillers across Scotland.

“We want to help put small-scale malting at the forefront of ingredient supply chain and tell the story of Scotland’s grain-to-glass journey, as well as the value that malt brings to beers and spirits.”

David Rhind, agriculture relationship director at HSBC UK, said: “We were impressed with Alison’s experience and expertise in the sector and, along with her family, she has clearly spotted an excellent business opportunity.

“HSBC UK is dedicated to supporting businesses of all sizes connected to Scotland’s burgeoning food and drink sector. We wish Alison and Crafty Maltsters every success in taking the business forward.”

Trade association Scotland Food and Drink has set a target of making brewing a £1 billion sector by 2030. Malt is a core ingredient in beer and spirits and the firm hopes to establish a Scottish specialty malt brand that benefits from the boom in craft beers and distilling.

The finance was allocated from HSBC’s SME (small and medium-sized enterprise) fund which aims to actively support UK SMEs. The £12bn fund announced by the banking giant includes £650 million committed to Scotland.