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Success Stories

From Farm to Tap

Chris Freeman
Jared Stober with an outstretched hand holding a small bottle with grains inside.

BISMARCK, N.D. – You’ve likely heard the phrases “Farm to Table” and “Farm to School,” but how about “Farm to Tap?” Though maybe not as common or mainstream, “farm to tap” is an appropriate way to summarize the path that grain, grown and harvested on family farms in North Dakota, takes to become the beer that’s poured from taps in local breweries across the country.

“The idea started in 2014, but we didn’t produce our first batch of malt until 2016,” said Jared Stober, CEO, Two Track Malting. “You have to start somewhere, and our very first customer was Laughing Sun Brewery in Bismarck.”

Malt, the product carefully created by Stober and his team at Two Track Malting, is grain – in their case, primarily barley – that has been specially prepared for brewing. Producing malt isn’t necessarily unique, but the focus they put on locally grown, traceable grains definitely sets them apart. The ability to trace the malt and learn more about where it came from allows breweries to fine-tune the malt to ensure a consistent product.

 “If you are a brewer or distiller, you are going to need the specifics for each of the malts we produce,” said Stober. “So, what we did is embed a QR scan code onto each bag. You can scan that code which brings up the product page on the website. At that point, you can check the malt for specifics relating to items like moisture content, sensory profile, and history of the grain to name a few.”

The QR code also shows potential customers exactly where the grain for their malt was grown. Currently, there are two North Dakota farms that supply all the barley they malt, one near Goodrich where Stober’s father and brother farm, and the other from Arrow K farms near Belfield. Two Track Malting’s strategic decision to advertise their locally grown sources was also something that really resonated with customers, opening doors to breweries well beyond North Dakota. 

“Once we started getting feedback and getting our recipes dialed in, that is when we started to look for where we could market this. We knew we had to look outside of our immediate region for customers. We knew that our product is not going to work for every customer, but there was a market for our malt in places like New Jersey, California, Florida, and most places in between,” said Stober. “They love the grain, love the malt, and love the story. It’s one of those things where two companies click. Craft brewers aren’t the big guys. They are looking for something different and unique out there.” 

That market research and development has led to an increase in the demand for their malt. The successful growth of Two Track Malting in terms of production and sales quickly identified a need for expansion in terms of the space and equipment housed in their startup facility in a small warehouse in Lincoln, ND, (est. population: 4,334). So began the search for a place to grow.

“At our current facility, it has been a good proof of concept,” said Stober. “Everything around here takes a lot of manual labor. Right now, we are producing 11-ton batches, but at the new site, that number is closer to 32-ton batches. When we started talking expansion, we are now looking at a whole new ball game with more dollars involved.”

Still a small operation, Stober wanted the expansion to be done right while staying cost-effective. While exploring their options for financing, they turned to USDA Rural Development and found a program to help them meet their needs and reach their goals. With support from and in partnership with a rural electric cooperative, the Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant Program gave them potential access to a $2 million, 0% interest pass-through loan from Capital Electric Cooperative.

“My brother found the program and started talking with the USDA RD team,” Stober said. “It was a perfect fit for our two organizations. The local resources that Rural Development has really helped us navigate it. If it was us doing this solo, I don’t know where we would be. It would’ve been difficult for us to proceed without the local team at RD.” 

As they near completion of their expansion and new facility being built in nearby McKenzie, ND (est. population: 64), this small business, now with nationwide appeal, remains deeply rooted in where and how it all started. Each stamp of their logo is a reminder of those rural roots. 

“The two track trails comes from the roads that you create in the field and on the farm,” said Stober. “We are all about traceability, where the grain comes from, showcasing the farmer, and showcasing the field. When we started, it was between barley and hops. We literally had barley growing in our backyard, so we went down that rabbit hole, and here we are today. We thought there could be a good niche to where we could shed light on the farmer, the grower, have traceability, while still having some fun and creating a high-quality malt and it has worked really well for our success.” 

To find out more about USDA Rural Development can help expand rural businesses and build strong rural communities, visit our website at www.rd.usda.gov/nd or reach out to us at (701) 530-2042 or by email at info@nd.usda.gov.

Obligation Amount:
Year(s) of Obligation:
Congressional District:
  • North Dakota: District (at Large)