Everyone knows Canadian beer is some of the best in the world, but what makes it so special? It all starts with the barley. And that’s no coincidence—after all, Canada is a hotbed of skilled growers, maltsters and brewers. This is the story of generational craft. Of hours in the field and on the brewery floor. These are the people and products behind your pint. This is Two Row.
Long before it’s in your glass, beer is barley. It starts as a seed, treated to protect its potential, sown and cared for by an expert grower. Meet Spencer Hilton, from Hilton Ventures. He’s been growing two row barley on his family’s land just outside Strathmore, AB for over 40 years.
“We’re at about 3,000 ft. elevation, so we get the cold evenings. We have a really nice geographical advantage here.”
While cool evenings, ideal elevation and just enough rain make for excellent barley growing, even expert barley growers like Spencer know you can’t bank on big yields relying on geography alone.
“We’ve become a real recipe-driven industry. So part of that recipe for us is starting with a really good, high quality seed, and then protecting that seed.”
Spencer uses Raxil® PRO to give his seeds the best chance at strong emergence. Combined with other tried-and-true crop protection products, like Prosaro® XTR fungicide, Spencer works tirelessly to grow the perfect barley for malting.
Speaking of malting, there are few in the region more dedicated than maltster Kyle Geeraert, of Origin Malting. To say Kyle is a workhorse would be an understatement. Not surprisingly, he expects the same from the barley that comes into the malthouse. Even though he has custom-designed, state of the art technology at his disposal, he relies on something a little less tangible to produce top-quality malt: a top quality barley crop from Hilton Ventures, his father-in-law’s 5th generation farm.
“… We get consistency all the time. And if we’re bringing in the best barley that we grow, [we can] give Alberta brewers the best possible malt that they can possibly find.” Says Geeraert.
Origin provides full traceability to the exact field a batch was grown in—fields like Spencer’s that have been producing top-quality barley for decades. Modern technology may make his malting easier, but years of experience make it impeccable. Kyle knows consistency and tradition aren’t easily taught, and so does Tavis Agnew, brew master at Calgary’s Freehold Brewing Co.
Tavis makes beer that pays homage to the hard-working growers who produce the ingredients his beer relies on. Freehold beer is crafted with transparency at heart, and nothing is more transparent than walking the very fields your malt comes from. It goes beyond transparency, though, because sub-standard barley simply won’t cut it when you’re trying to brew the best beer.
“We would need more barley to make the same amount of sugar, which increases the cost of our product. [And] we would need to do more processing to get the right amount of conversion. Between those two things, it complicates the process.”
Complication isn’t what’s needed here. Good beer doesn’t require preservatives, fillers and other unnecessary ingredients. The right two row barley is the base because when it’s grown right, it malts properly, and when it malts properly, it brews just right. It all starts in the field, so next time you kick back with a beer, remember the grassroots growers who invested in their crop’s health and yield throughout the growing season, and the artisans in the malthouse and the brewery. Most important of all, remember to raise your glass high and toast to the amazing crops our land gives us, and the even more amazing people who transform these crops into something we can all be proud of.
Cheers to keeping it local!
For top quality barley consider our top performing crop protection products throughout the growing season, from seed to harvest.
The Seed Treatment — Raxil PRO
The first step in growing barley isn’t putting the seed in the ground. It’s treating that seed to protect its potential, giving it the chance to emerge healthier and stronger, while shielding it from early-season diseases that can impact yield and quality. If you want to grow good barley, you need a good seed treatment. Raxil PRO is the #1 selling cereal seed treatment brand ten years running1. What could be better than that?
Emerge Stronger with Raxil PRO >
The Herbicide — Tundra
Your barley is growing, but grass and broadleaf weeds could be taking a bite out of your yield. Time to apply a herbicide to keep your fields clean. With no tank-mixing required, Tundra’s three actives are the solution to controlling all major weeds like wild oats, green foxtail and Group 2 resistant kochia, cleavers and chickweed. Your operation is constantly moving forward. Put your trust in Tundra and leave the weeds behind.
Protect against weeds with Tundra >
The Fungicide — Prosaro XTR
Once barley is established, disease can strike. You don’t want to get your barley to this stage only to have your yield and quality diminished. Prosaro XTR combines two active ingredients to protect against fusarium head blight and late-season leaf disease so you get peace of mind that you’re doing the most to keep your barley healthy. Protect it with Prosaro XTR.
Out protect and out yield with Prosaro XTR >
1 2019 BPI Data – Cereal Seed Treatments