With the rise of craft beer in Alberta, there may not be a better time to be a barley farmer.

For Supply Chain Director with Rahr Malting in Alix, Kevin Sich, business has never been better thanks to the growing popularity of micro-breweries in the area.

So, when he invited local barley producers to join him during Agri-Trade at Westerner Park for a customer appreciation celebration, it wasn’t surprising to see so many smiling faces.

Sich said the impact craft beer has had on the industry is just amazing.

“The craft beer industry is great because it uses two or three times the amount of malt than a big-box brewer does. There’s a lot of that “buy local” and that’s become the push. There’s a couple craft breweries here, there’s one in Lacombe, they’re starting up all over and that real ownership.”

Sich said barley plays a huge role in producing some of the best beer, not only in Central Alberta, but across the world and believes Alberta produces some of the world’s best barley.

One of the farmers who attended the appreciation celebreation was Gary Richards and he agrees it’s a great time to be in business.

"The industry is really exploding I would say, with the craft breweries. Craft breweries tend to use more barley and more natural stuff. These guys have really reborn the malt industry.”

Not much of a beer drinker, Richards said he’ll have one from time to time, especially knowing it could be his barley, they’ve used to craft it.

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