More than two years ago, Rosthern-area farmer Matt Enns started thinking about tapping in to craft malting.
“No one took me super seriously for quite a while,” said Enns, the co-founder of Maker’s Malt.
Fast forward to today and the idea has taken shape, as a craft malting facility in Rosthern, Sask. called Maker’s Malt. The company is made up of a small collective of local farmers who have grown malt barley in the area for years.
Maker’s Malt plans to work with the craft brewing and distilling industries to provide specialty malts, which are often imported from Europe.
“We have a very large company, Cargill, doing malting at Prairie Malt in Biggar, but malting in a small scale, we’re the first people to do it in Saskatchewan,” Enns said.
The malting process takes around one week. It involves water, controlled temperature and humidity.
The final base malt product is “a little bit darker colour than it is when it comes off the field and it’s definitely more crackable. If you chew it you’ll crunch right through it and you’ll get a nice sweetness out of it,” Enns explained.
The malt is then packaged in 25-kilogram bags and sent to craft breweries.
Earlier this month Maker’s Malt was made into a beer for the first time at 9 Mile Legacy Brewing Company in Saskatoon.
“We were able to grow the barley one mile from the plant here. We grew it specifically for our plant, so that actually changes the agronomy quite a bit,” said Enns. “Instead of focusing on yield, we really focused on quality.”
“The beer turned out great,” said Garrett Pederson, the head brewer at 9 Mile Legacy.
“To work with Matt, we can get some specialty ingredients. Some of his concepts are cool because he’ll pull malt from a specific field, so we’ll know exactly where that barely came from,” said Pederson.
“We’ve been able to go directly to the end user, find out what they’re looking for and provide it here at Maker’s,” said Enns.
The malt operation plans to grow the business, with room to double production in the future.