Story: A visit to Ticino's very first malthouse

Beer culture meets country life

In the Bellinzona area, organic barley is transformed into 100% organic and Ticino malt.

In the middle of a rural idyll, surrounded by fields of organic barley and solar-powered barns, stands Ticino’s first ever malthouse. Thanks to its location in the Masseria Ramello, the Malteria Ticinese cuts right down on food miles for local breweries. Local beers can be tried on-site, with expert advice and a real rural experience provided for free.

A farmstead like those in story books – geese gaggling at the gate, a cow mooing in the distance and a few curious dogs sniffing at visitors as they arrive in front of the main building. The Masseria Ramello, the Feitknecht family’s organic farm, has been running for over a century in the Cadenazzo district right on the Magadino Plain, and is surrounded by barley, wheat, corn and soy fields. Yellow flowers peek out from between the stalks, proving the farm’s organic credentials. Adrian Feitknecht, born in 1988, now runs the farm like his father and grandfather did before him. 

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The birds nest in the huge barn between the main house and cowshed, traditionally used to store corn and materials. But the old farmhouse was given a brand-new function last year: it’s the place where – against an agricultural backdrop – Manuel Bolliger, solar consultant and beer sommelier, and childhood friend Adrian Feitknecht have realised their long-standing dream of opening the first malthouse in Ticino.  

The imposing stainless-steel construction to one side of the main barn looks like a futuristic rocket. 500 kg of organic barley are malted here each week. Manuel Bolliger opens the large hatch to show us where the magic happens: the complicated process of germination. Thanks to the high temperatures, Bolliger and Feitknecht can also produce special malts, such as birra rossa (amber beer), in addition to base malts.

We are the first in Ticino. We only grow organic barley, meaning breweries can make organic beers using our product. Or original Ticino whiskies.

The decision to stick to organic farming methods and sustainability continues to honour the family tradition, as Adrian’s father also carefully tended his fields, animals and special crops. But Adrian went one step further when he took over, aligning his methods, fields and barns with the strict regulations covering organic farming. 

Naturally grown products have many advantages – both quantifiable and not – such as fewer harmful substances and a better taste.

Pro tip
Masseria Ramello, a farm also known as a B&B and the setting for wedding parties and private events. Different areas in the house, including the garden, inner courtyard and some inside rooms, can be booked with catering.
Did you know that special malts give beer its colour and aroma? Mild, bitter, full-bodied or with stable head depending on manufacture.
The Malteria Ticinese is a must for beer lovers: it offers tastings, courses and advice on the perfect menu. It also has a shop open to the public on Fridays and upon booking.
Cadenazzo

Long-term, Manuel and Adrian see the malthouse expanding, and they’ve already got a permit to expand to 4 times the size. Visitors wanting to experience what the malt tastes like when turned into sparkling beer – with or without alcohol or gluten – can do so right in the tasting bar with an attached beer shop of the Malteria, booking in advance.

As a qualified beer sommelier – Manuel Bolliger wants to convey one thing: a real beer culture. Through visits to the fields and premises, courses, tasting sessions and beer menus that reveal the secrets and tastes of different beers in Ticino, Switzerland and around the globe.  

The Masseria Ramello provides the perfect setting for all these events, with a dollop of country life thrown in.

Cadenazzo

“People come here to discover the origin of beer.” 

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