I love this. After the best part of a century and a quarter, someone is taking on eastern Ontario's fine history of malting and setting up business:
“We aim to be in production with a one-tonne capacity by the mid, late summer,” Huffman told the committee. A new building must first be built on what used to be Devin's grandparents' property in order to meet the needs of a malt house and regulations of the food and drugs act relating to storage handling and processing of brewing grain. Barn Owl Malt will use a three-step process of steeping (wetting), germinating (sprouting) and Kilning (drying) to produce a base grain product used in the production of beer. Huffman noted steep tanks, germination beds and kiln will be commissioned and manufactured locally in Belleville and installed at Barn Owl Malt upon completion of construction later this spring, early summer.
What a wonderful thing. I mean I am all as rah-rah as I can muster myself to be over local brewing but local malting? That is fabulous. They will be aiming to get local Ontario barley into their shop as soon as it is available this fall. Why is this so cool? Well, as Jordan set out in the 1860s portion of the upcoming history of Ontario beer, the Elgin-Marcy Treaty of 1854 that ensured reciprocity of trade meant that there were no tariffs in place on grain shipped south across Lake Ontario. This placed the grain growers around Belleville in an envious situation. They were within reach of Oswego in New York State on the south east corner of the lake, a barley hungry town that would supply grain to brewers throughout upstate New York. The American Civil war triggered beer sale due to an 1862 excise tax on whiskey which increased the price tenfold but left beer alone. The demand for barley exploded and south-eastern Ontario answered the call. The barley boom lasted until 1890 when the McKinley tariff crushed Ontario’s barley farmers.
So, what's that mean? Well, for me it means that someone needs to be growing the grain, malting the barley and brewing the beer that gets the label "Screw You McKinley Pale Ale" on the bottle. I'd buy that.