New Brunswick

That's the spirit: Distillery to build 1st malt house in New Brunswick

Distillerie Fils du Roy is expanding and plan to use barley from local farmers to make malt for their beer and whisky production.

'We want to expand to 500 acres and we will need farmers from everywhere in New Brunswick'

Distillerie Fils du Roy co-owner Sébastien Roy says it takes 1.5 tonnes of barley to make just one barrel of whisky. (Fils du Roy)

An award-winning spirits company is building the first malt house in New Brunswick.

Distillerie Fils du Roy is expanding and plan to transform barley from local farmers into malt to be used in their beer and whisky production.

The distillery is located in Petit-Paquetville on the Acadian Peninsula, and co-owner Sébastien Roy says it's expensive to transport malt to the area.

He said the process to turn a cereal such as barley, wheat or rye into malt is "fairly simple" and it's cheaper to make their own. 

In order to produce malt, barley is cleaned and soaked in water until 40 per cent of the barley's mass becomes water. It is then removed from the water and germination begins and roots appear. Then the barley is dried so the starch present turns to sugar to be used in alcohol, Roy said.

There is some barley already being grown in the province, Roy said.

"We only have about 150 acres [but] by 2024 we want to expand to 500 acres and we will need farmers from everywhere in New Brunswick," Roy said.

Using a bunch of barley

Roy said barley has been grown in New Brunswick for a long time, but it was used mostly for cattle. Growing the variety of barley for human consumption is new to the province.

'We have everything here in New Brunswick to produce whisky as good as any other country that produces the best whisky in the world,' Roy says. (CBC)

The malt house is being built to make Distillerie Fils du Roy more self-sufficient. The company is hoping to produce enough malt for its own products, but Roy said eventually the company could sell malt to others.

"A barrel of whisky is more than 1.5 tonnes of barley. Just during the winter we consume hundreds of tonnes and we are not at our maximum," Roy said.

In addition to the malt house, the company is also adding a lab to produce its own yeast. It is an ingredient Roy said is "underestimated" in beer production.

"The flavour you can have from yeast is incredible and the Acadians have a long history of producing beer. In the beginning, they were using mashed potatoes with a hop — they were mashing both together and that was starting a fermentation," Roy said.

100% local

Roy said by the time the malt is produced locally, everything inside the bottle is 100 per cent made-in-New-Brunswick.

"We have everything here in New Brunswick to produce whisky as good as any other country that produces the best whisky in the world," Roy said.

The malt house is expected to be built by the end of October. By November the distillery should be able to work with barley and produce malt, Roy said.

With files from CBC Homegrown

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