World War I

Over 100 years ago, the Swinkels family brewery already owned a small malthouse. During the First World War (1914-18), in which The Netherlands did not participate, this malting became important as its kiln was being used for the drying of vegetables, feeding the local population.

Since the rest of Europe was at war, all breweries in the Netherlands joined together to purchase the barley for their needs in the USA. Unfortunately, the first ship with barley was being sunk by a German torpedo. Being well insured, the breweries received sufficient money to participate in a new vessel. The insurance money was even sufficient to enable new investments in the malting and brewery of Bavaria.

World War II and Fifties

With history in mind, a new generation of the Swinkels family started the construction of a new malting plant in 1938, which was finished just prior the Second World War. This time the Netherlands were actually involved in the war and  ended up being occupied for more than 4 years. As was the case in World War I, the kiln was used for drying of vegetables.

The malthouse now consisted of four 10 ton steeping vessels, four 10 ton germination boxes  and a kiln with two floors. The kiln was heated indirectly using coal (the gases never came into contact with the sprouted barley). Soon after the liberation of the Netherlands 4 more 10 ton germination boxes were constructed. The 'turners' used in the new germination boxes were crafted on-site using the design of the existing turning screws as an example.

The capacity of the maltings now exceeded the needs of the brewery by 3,000 tons. As a result the surplus malt was sold to other breweries in the Netherlands and to the Dutch export organisation for maltings.

Sixties and Seventies

In 1964 beer consumption in The Netherlands had grown significantly. Again, the malting capacity was doubled to a production of 12,000 tons annually. Now, the maltings consisted of 4 steeping vessels, 12 germination boxes (Saladin boxes) of 20 ton each, and 2 steam heated kilns.

At the end of the sixties, things changed due to the agricultural policy of the EU. The closed Dutch market had to open up to other EU members, which resulted in a restructuring of the malting industry. Subsequent to this restructuring, the maltings of Bavaria increased its capacity to an intake of 40,000 tons of barley per year. This extension of the malting's  capacity was made possible by the construction of one of the first tower maltings in the EU.

The construction of the tower maltings began in 1971 using the spectacular method of sliding formwork to build up the concrete core. The maltings included four 43 ton steeping vessels and three germination and kiln-drying units with a capacity of 170 tons each. The steeping took two days maximum, the germination process took six days and the kiln-drying took 32 to 35 hours only.


Due to the combination of a malting and a brewery, and a new energy crisis at the end of the seventies, it was decided that a combined heat and power supply was needed. The heat from this unit, steam, was used on the kilns. In this way, both the environmental issue as well as food safety were greatly improved.

In 1981 a second tower was build and the first tower was restructured into a kilning tower. Now, the malting existed of 1 germination tower with 5 boxes, and 1 steeping and kilning tower. The Saladin boxes were kept in function as a separate unit.

In 1987 a new restructuring of the malting market occurred in The Netherlands, and Bavaria acquired the independent malting EMN in Wageningen, which was thoroughly modernized in 1988. By this acquisition the capacity of the malting increased to approx. 120,000 tons.


In 1991 the maltings build a second germination tower in Lieshout, followed by a second kilning tower in 1995. By this latter extension, capacity was increased and at the same time quality was improved due to lowering of the load on the kilns to 330 kg /m2. This new kiln was, and is, the key element on which we now base our research into new malting technologies

The new millennium

In 2003 the Bavaria brewery and the farmer cooperative Agrifirm decided to work together in order to get a firmer grip on the barley-malt-beer supply chain. This resulted in the Holland Malt joint venture. Holland Malt obtained all the maltings previously owned by the Bavaria brewery and is the preferred buyer of the barley produced by the 600 Agrifirm barley producers.

To even further extend the malting capacity of the new joint venture, a third maltings was created in Eemshaven in 2005. This state-of-the-art production facility is considered to be one of the largest and most modern barley storage and malting plants in the world today. The Eemshaven maltings is capable of producing 130.000 tons of malt per year. It consists of two towers, each with an 'Ecosteep' unit in the top and steeping and single rotary kiln floors below it.

The most remarkable about the facility probably is the amount of effort that is put into quality control. First of all, the entire facility is constructed of steel for better hygiene. Second, a  wireless monitoring system was installed to ensure optimum conditions for storing barley. Third, the plant makes use of the latest grain cleaning technologies, employing a 30 square meter grain sieve.