Matt Phillips

Matt Phillips

Local brewery opens malting plant

It's been two years and 5,000 grey hairs in the making, but now local craft beer brewer Matt Phillips will be doing his own barley malting.

  • Sep. 2, 2015 2:00 p.m.

It’s been two years and 5,000 grey hairs in the making, but now local craft beer brewer Matt Phillips will be doing his own barley malting with the help of regional farmers.

Next Friday, Phillips Brewing Company, located on Government Street, will mark the grand opening of its very own on-site malting plant – the first of its size in Victoria and B.C.

According to Phillips, the local facility is one of only a handful of malting plants across North America, and will partner with Vancouver Island farmers to use locally grown barley in its beer.

“We were interested in looking at getting involved with local ingredients. We can take control of the process and start altering it in ways we’re interested in,” said Phillips, who opened his brewery (the sixth largest in B.C.) in 2001, and now occupies most of a city block.

“If we want to make a new beer with a new flavour, we can do that now.”

Getting the barley (the main component in beer) is one thing, but getting it ready to go into beer requires a fair amount of infrastructure for the malting process to take place. Phillips describes malting as a germination process, and at the end, the barely is heated to produce a variety of flavours.

The on-site malting plant will do about 20 tons of barley at a time, which takes about a week to process. Phillips admits the malting process is quite technical, but it’s also a work of art. This year he expects to produce 72 different flavours of beer.

“Every load of barley is really quite different, depending on where it was grown and what the moisture was where it was harvested,” said Phillips, who received help from an experienced maltster.

“It opens up a whole new realm of creativity for us and we’ll definitely be playing with that.”

Craft beer has become increasingly popular during the last two to three years, soaking up 22 per cent of B.C.’s beer sales, according to figures from the B.C. Liquor Distribution Branch.

The province is set to boast more than 100 beer producers by the end of the year. Victoria now has approximately seven breweries and another three or four are located outside of the city.

— Pamela Roth