Island farmers hope to hop on craft beer boom by growing barley
Almost all malting barley grown in the Prairies
Some P.E.I. farmers hope to cash in on the craft brewery craze by growing malting barley.
Six Island farmers have been test-growing about a hundred hectares of malting barley for the last three summers.
Until recently, most of Canada's malting barley was grown out West, but beer habits have changed dramatically.
"The craft brewing industry has exploded," explained Aaron Mills, a research scientist at Agriculture Canada in P.E.I.
"People want local products and brewers want to use local ingredients in their beers."
Mills has been helping find high-quality varieties that grow well on the Island and make good tasting beers.
Farmers are interested because malting barley is earning them $25 more a tonne than regular barley.
The general manager of the PEI Grain Elevator Corporation, Neil Campbell, says farmers would earn even more if there was somewhere closer to home to process the barley.
"The biggest obstacle is we have to ship it back to Montreal, to Canada Malts," said Campbell.
Campbell and Mills believe it's only a matter of time before a local malt house opens, thanks to all the new microbreweries popping up.