Mike Uncorked: Al Stewart and The Horton Ridge Malt & Grain Company!
By Mike Butler
Driving along the highway, everyone knows and loves the view! Coming over the mountain to see Blomidon, heading into Halifax and seeing the smoke from the Sackville Lumber Mill, and all of the greenery and the waterways of Windsor, make the drive so much more enjoyable. Over the last year, there’s been a new piece of the landscape added and it’s a wonderful addition between exits 9 and 10: The Horton Ridge Malt & Grain Company!
Alan Stewart, the sixth generation farmer from Hortonville, sat down and chatted with me about this incredible business venture. Al attended the original Horton High School, Acadia University, and the Technical University of Nova Scotia.
“After high school, I ran away from the family farm and obtained several engineering degrees. However the farming lifestyle (all work, no play, no money) beckoned, and in the mid 80’s I purchased the farm from my father,” says Alan, “After farming for 30 years — including 23 years at the Wolfville Farmers Market — I opened Horton Ridge Malt & Grain in the spring of 2016. This was a result of wanting to convert our organic farm to grain production to supply the burgeoning craft brewing and distilling industries of the Maritimes. I soon found out that although beer and whiskey are made from grain, the grain had to be malted first. No one was doing that here, and malting is a good fit for a farmer. Malting is essentially the germination of grain, so it was easy for me to get my head around it.”
Horton Ridge is the only malt house in Atlantic Canada and only one of about a dozen in Canada. Their distinctive building design honours the malt kilns of the distilleries of Scotland and it’s a sight to behold. The craft malting industry is very new to North America, and Horton Ridge is happy to be on the cutting edge. They supply malts to various breweries around the Maritimes and in the spring of 2017 they began brewing beer. Their taproom opened on June 1 to much praise. Horton Ridge is the only brewery in Atlantic Canada that makes its own malts and this has been a wonderful opportunity for them to educate their customers about the role agriculture plays in brewing.
“We serve tasting flights, pints, and growlers of beer.” says Stewart. “An ongoing goal is to tie the various varieties of grains to their distinctive flavours in beer. We have six taps, and our tap list is always changing. We try to have 3 of our own beers available on tap and in growlers. Our beers contain only our malts. The other three taps dispense beer made by our customers that have purchased malt from us. These breweries are big and small, allowing us to showcase beers that are not normally available in the Valley.”
The Horton Ridge Malt & Grain is becoming a very popular social hangout for those looking for something a little different and something off the beaten path. On Friday evenings they have “Neighbour’s Night”, and have a lineup of music over the upcoming months. As they move into winter, they will remain open Thursday to Sunday to provide a space to enjoy a wee pint or two. They will be open Thurs 4-9pm (trivia contest at 7:00pm), Fri & Sat 2:00pm-10:00pm and Sun 12-6:00pm. You can reach the shop by calling 902-266- MALT (how easy is that?). This winter, while sometimes businesses make a huge shift in hours and staff, the malt shop hopes to gain more clients seeking a nice, comfortable place to taste unique products and bask in a warm atmosphere.
The Horton Ridge Malt & Grain Company has become a terrific addition to our Valley business community and I hope you take the time to go visit this amazing sight and sample their products. All the best to Al and his team!