Beermakers Benefit From Canada's Best Barley Crop in a Decade

(Bloomberg) -- Celebrating National Beer Day this Saturday with a cold one? That ale you’re sipping probably has more Canadian barley after the nation had a “dream” crop.

Hot, dry weather before last fall’s harvest helped produce the best malt barley in the last decade in Western Canada, said Kevin Sich, the supply chain director at Rahr Malting in Alix, Alberta, one of the country’s biggest processors. The high-quality crop has seen strong demand. From August through March, the nation’s exports surged 77 percent from a year earlier, industry data show.

“Everybody’s realizing the Canadian crops have high value this year,” Sich said by telephone. “There’s been a lot of appetite for Canadian barley” since it’s a “a dream to work with” for brewers, he said.

Malt companies need barley to be dry so they can start and then halt the germination process, which changes the starches into sugars that can be used by distillers and brewers. Canadian barley acres may rise 5 percent in 2018 as the grain is no longer the “forgotten stepchild” of crops amid steady prices and demand from beermakers, Sich said.

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