Adding Value Through Education

August 20, 2018

Malting barley growers looking to add value to their operation can get started by participating in a unique learning opportunity offered by the Malt Academy.

Based at the Canadian Malting Barley Technical Centre (CMBTC) in Winnipeg, Manitoba, the one-of-a-kind training institute offers a variety of programming for the industry. More than 300 participants have enriched their malt knowledge since the inaugural class in 2011.

“People come from all over the world for our courses,” says Peter Watts, managing director, CMBTC. “The vast majority come from Canada and the US, but we've had participants from as far as Italy, Brazil, Australia, Mexico and the Netherlands.”

The institute’s one-week intensive course in malt processing is targeted at aspiring maltsters who want to learn the craft, existing maltsters who wish to upgrade their skills, and brewers who want a better understanding of the major raw material in beer (i.e. barley malt). The program is also popular with malting barley growers looking to add value to their crop.

“About 25 to 35 percent of our one-week program is composed of people who are farmers themselves or who have a direct connection to a farm,” says Watts. “Typically, they're looking at trying to create their own micro malt processing facilities.”

Through a combination of hands-on and theoretical instruction, participants gain the knowledge and skills required to produce high-quality barley malt as well as a thorough understanding of how its attributes impact the brewing process and beer quality.

The Academy also offers a three-day program targeted at people interested in an overall understanding of the Canadian malting barley value chain and high-level knowledge of the malting and brewing processes.

In all cases, the spotlight is on Canadian barley. “Our programs provide good profile for Canadian malting barley,” says Watts. “The students learn about its advantages and they gain a strong understanding of the varieties we have here.”

Future offerings

Canadian malting barley will star in two new programs currently being developed at the Malt Academy. “We are planning a program specifically for international buyers,” says Watts. “In 2019, we will be inviting customers from China to come and spend a week in Winnipeg to learn about Canadian malting barley.”

The other program is being designed for Canadian producers. “One thing we have found is that malting barley farmers are very good at what they do, but they don't always understand why they're doing it,” he says pointing to moisture content and disease management as examples. Growers may wonder: ‘Why are these important things from a processing standpoint?’

“Our plan is to hold a two- or three-day course annually for farmers,” says Watts. “It’s our hope that providing this educational opportunity to producers will translate into better quality in Canadian malting barley.”

Stay tuned for the inaugural producer course this fall. In the meantime, other courses are open for registration. Two sessions of the one-week Intensive malting program are planned for December 10 to 14, 2018 and February 4 to 8, 2019. The next three-day overview course will take place on March 6 to 8, 2019. For more information about the Malt Academy or to register for upcoming training opportunities, visit: http://cmbtc.com/malt-academy/.

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