The smell of fresh stone-ground whole-grain flour is unmistakable. Like bread but raw. It’s a scent that carries the promise of pizza, pasta, cakes, dumplings, tortillas. It’s immediately recognizable, despite the fact that you’ve likely never smelled it before, unless you’ve visited a place like Barton Springs Mill.
The Hill Country’s first new mill in more than a century, Barton Springs opened in 2017 in a five-thousand-square-foot building on Frog Pond Lane, in Dripping Springs. The warehouse sits in a small industrial park with identical buildings, but only one contains hulking machines that include a 1930s Clipper seed cleaner, an imported Austrian Osttiroler mill bearing two 1,500-pound millstones, and a hammer mill that breaks down grains for brewing and distilling. Surrounding the equipment are dozens of one-ton vacuum-sealed bags full of heirloom grains as well as chest freezers packed with seeds to grow long-forgotten varieties of corn and wheat. There’s a makeshift area for baking classes, and a tiny retail space offers brown paper sacks of whole grains for sale. In the middle of it all, sporting a big, bushy beard and brown Carhartt overalls like an organic farming Santa Claus, is owner and miller James Brown.
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