In the 19th century, several firms of maltsters became established in Berwick and sold their product throughout the United Kingdom.
Perhaps the best known company was founded by James Parker Simpson, an Alnwick corn merchant who built his first maltings in Alnwick in 1872.
Simpson acquired his first maltings in Berwick in 1888. In 1902, the company built a new maltings at Tweed Dock, Tweedmouth to facilitate the export of malt to Ireland. At that time, Guinness took almost a third of the company's production.
Malting begins with steeping the barley grains, or 'berries' in water. They are then spread for several days on the malting floor with air circulating to allow germination. The grains are turned regularly. The barley is then heated and dried in a kiln to stop the sprouting and reduce the moisture content.
Malting converts starch in the grain to sugar, which feeds the yeast in the brewing or distilling process to produce alcohol. One ton of malt makes 14,000 pints of beer or 400 litres of 60% alcohol.
Several of the town's old maltings have been converted to other purposes including a theatre and residential apartments, but the town’s malting tradition continues at the hi-tech complex of Simpson’s Malt Ltd. In Tweedmouth.