Alan Stewart is a sixth-generation farmer in Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Valley. He had been farming for over 30 years when he began to look for a new challenge.

“When I did a little more digging, I realized beer wasn’t made directly from grain, there was this missing step, an intermediary step called malting,” says Alan. “Until some idiot opened a malt house, that gap would be there, so I decided to be that idiot to open a malt house.”

Alan’s brainchild, Horton Ridge Malt and Grain, is a craft brewery and the first, and only, malt house in Atlantic Canada.

For more than a year, Alan and his son Connor have been welcoming visitors to their Hortonville, N.S. business.

“I’d say about 95 per cent of people who come in here don’t really know what malt is,” says Connor Stewart. “They know what barley is, but they don’t know that it needs to go through the malting process. So I’d say we’re educating people quite a bit on what it takes to get sugar out of the grain and how that happens and how that ends up making beer.”

There are three steps to the malting process: steeping, germination, and kilning.

“This is green malt that we're kilning and it's during the kilning process that we dry the malt out and impart flavours,” says Alan.

The process takes about a week to complete.

“Then we bag it up in 55-pound bags and send that off to other breweries or make a small batch with it ourselves,” says Connor.

Alan says he wants visitors to understand how important agriculture is to brewing. He also says he and his son are passionate about the journey from grain to glass and supplying locally grown and malted grains to Atlantic Canada’s craft brewing industry.

“We're out to help people make that direct correlation between grain and beer, and the fact that this malting step has to happen to allow that to occur,” says Alan.

With files from CTV Atlantic's Suzette Belliveau