Our first stop of the journey was to RARH malting in Alix Alberta. Here we were guided on a tour of their facilities where we saw the process of grain being kilned into malt. It is good to know that they only use the best possible 2-row barley and kiln it to become good quality malt that we use to make great beer. They have an on-site laboratory that they use in order to make sure the barley and malt have the best possible qualities and they brew test worts in order to make sure that it will make good beer. They believe strongly in creating successful value chains between farmers and brewers and select only farms that meet their rigorous quality requirements. It is important for us to build strong relationships with companies like this in order to have a steady supply of malt and to have the ability to get the barley varieties that we need to produce the best beer that we can. It amazes me how large their daily batch size is at 480 tonnes or grain.
AGLC Connect Logistics
Next we drove up to St. Albert to the AGLC and got to see the Connect logistics warehouse which is huge, holding the majority of the beer, wine, and spirits in the province. Though I am a bit concerned that most of the beer they store is not refrigerated, they do have a refrigerated section for unpasteurized products and it was mentioned that they are building a new warehouse which will be refrigerated. It was quite impressive the way they pick product from their shelves having everything timed to the second in order to be as efficient as possible. As the AGLC is the governing force behind liquor in this province graduates of this program will have to work closely with them in order to get a brewery of their own in this province up and running. Though it is their job to enforce the laws and regulations regarding liquor in this province it is good to see that they support new breweries and will do what they can to help you get your brewery licensed and ready to brew.
For our third stop we headed to Edmonton to see Labatt’s brewery which is by far the largest brewing facility that I have seen thus far. They were kind enough to give us a tour of their facility and the amount of stainless steel there is astonishing. This company is all about efficiency and consistency as they have to compare their batches with the batches of the other Labatt breweries in order to make sure that Budweiser tastes the same no matter where on the continent you buy it. The scale of their packaging line was amazing with thousands of bottles being filled and packed as we watched. Any of the graduates who are looking for precision and consistency in their brewing career would be right at home in this facility.
Alley Kat Brewing
Last but definitely not least we stopped at Alley Kat in Edmonton where one of the owners Neil was nice enough to show us around and give us a few pints. They are a company that sets a great example of what a small brewery in this province can do, the quality and market penetration of their products is inspiring. They love what they do and believe that the best beer is “brewed by the hands people who care about their craft” which is a statement that I fully agree with. Graduates of the program who value creativity and have a passion for making great beer by hand would enjoy being a part of this organization.
In closing this was a great trip where we met some great people and saw some amazing facilities. What better way to spend the day than to make some great contacts and enjoy a few awesome beers!