Gambrinus Malting®: Celebrating 30 Years as Canada’s Original Small-batch, Artisanal Malthouse
The year is 1992, George H.W. Bush is the president, Brian Mulroney is Canada’s Prime Minister, and the Toronto Blue Jays are on the way to winning their first World Series. In the world of beer, the craft movement is just getting started: there are 359 breweries in the US (now approaching 10,000) and less than 100 in Canada (currently over 1000). At the same time a couple Canadians up in Armstrong, British Columbia are set to embark on their own ambitious journey: opening a malthouse.
Thirty years later Gambrinus Malting continues to serve the needs of brewers and distillers in BC and beyond. Read on to learn how Canada’s original small-batch, artisanal malthouse got its start and where they’re headed next.
The Odyssey of Gambrinus
What if we shipped a malthouse from Germany to Canada?
“When Gambrinus was being founded, the malthouse from Schlossquell Brewery came on the market,” says Ken Smith, Director of Operations at Gambrinus. “The equipment was incredible, all traditional European-style, the only the problem was, it was in Heidelberg, Germany.”
Despite the logistical challenge of shipping an entire malthouse, they could not resist the chance to combine traditional European-influenced malting practices with the beauty and purity of the Okanagan Valley and Monashee Range. Soon enough the machinery was disassembled, loaded into containers, shipped to Canada and reassembled in Armstrong, BC. The same equipment is still in use on site today, producing some of the finest Canadian malts available. As for the name, they landed on Gambrinus, a legendary European cultural hero celebrated as the “King of Beer.” Who, as the story goes, learned how to brew from the Egyptian gods Isis and Osiris.
Rahr has Entered the Chat
Although they had the distinction of being one of the smallest malthouses in North America, Gambrinus would continue to punch well above its weight. The malthouse became known globally for its high-quality malt and exceptional customer service, but it was the introduction of Gambrinus Honey Malt that truly put them on the map. Their success would soon garner the attention of Rahr Malting Co. and in 2017 Gambrinus joined the Rahr family of companies. But Gambrinus had some initial reservations when first faced with the opportunity. “Even though we had a ton of respect for Rahr, we worried how the change might impact our customers,” recalls Ken Smith, “But after meeting with the people at Rahr, they totally alleviated our concerns. We’d still be us, but now we’d be combining Rahr’s 170 years of experience with our innovative approach.”
The Future is Honey Malted
Rahr’s influence was felt immediately at Gambrinus, investing in new laboratory spaces and assays, processing equipment and controls, barley selection, and screening. A product of this investment is the recently released Gambrinus Honey Malted Oats. Much like the company’s founding principles, Honey Malted Oats combines the best of two great things, the flavor characteristics of Gambrinus’ flagship Honey Malt with the ongoing trend for New England and Hazy IPAs. The result is a unique malted oat with bready, grainy, and sweet flavor notes. Releasing in 2022 as they celebrate their 30th anniversary Honey Malted Oats is a timely addition to the Gambrinus line. “Honey Malted Oats really represents the evolution of Gambrinus,” says Matt Hamill, commercial manager for Gambrinus Malting, “It wouldn’t be possible without everything we’ve learned over 30 years, Rahr’s leadership, and the support of our incredibly passionate customers.”
But don’t take our word for it, discover Gambrinus Honey Malted Oats for yourself by adding it to your next brew.
Explore Gambrinus’ full product line and experience the beauty and purity of the Okanagan Valley and Monashee Range.
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