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Island couple turning old Abram-Village courthouse into malting house

Iain MacInnes, left, and Karine Gallant hold malt and hops. Recently the couple bought an old courthouse and have begun turning it into a malting facility.
Iain MacInnes, left, and Karine Gallant hold malt and hops. Recently the couple bought an old courthouse and have begun turning it into a malting facility.

ST. TIMOTHÉE, P.E.I.–When you look at the old building, it’s hard to imagine the courthouse it used to be; the benches, stand and judge’s chair are gone. But even more difficult to picture is the future of the structure as a malting facility.

“We’ve added a new roof and support beams, we’re hunting for a nice big window, something to give it that extra historic value,” said Karine Gallant one of the cofounders of Productions Piroune, a malting company and hopeful hops grower for craft breweries.

Her partner, Iain MacInnes, added, “It’s a very large open space. We want to display the wooden beams, but at the same time keep some rooms humid in order to malt the barley.

“We’ve added a new roof and support beams, we’re hunting for a nice big window, something to give it that extra historic value,” said Karine Gallant one of the cofounders of Productions Piroune, a malting company and hopeful hops grower for craft breweries.

Her partner, Iain MacInnes, added, “It’s a very large open space. We want to display the wooden beams, but at the same time keep some rooms humid in order to malt the barley.

“Imagine in one of the rooms a small spaceship. It’s our kiln (oven), but it literally looks like a spaceship. It’s got this top part, which would be your landing ship, and then these pontoons that raise it up. We’ve also got the rotating drums instead of having floor malt and our steep tank.”

Recently the duo bought the former Abram-Village courthouse, located on festival grounds, when they learned it was going to be torn down.

Karine Gallant, left, and Iain MacInnes with the former Abram-Village courthouse.

“It was just the most perfect timing,” said Gallant.

“In the beginning, Iain was working in Charlottetown and I really wanted to move to this area and live in rural P.E.I., but we needed to find a feasible reason to do it.”

That’s when the couple decided to start their own company. While they were touring in Europe in 2015, the pair visited breweries and hops growers in Belgium.

“It was a great trip. We got to ask questions and see how things were done, then we also got to see some organic options if we wanted to try growing organic barley as well,” Gallant said.

But financially affording the facility became a concern, until the pair won the $10,000 top prize from last year’s Dragons’ Contest, a competition for young entrepreneurs presented by the Acadian and Francophone Chamber of Commerce of P.E.I. The win gave the company credibility that helped them secure the $100,000 needed to set up the project.

Hops flowers pictured above.

“One thing I’ve noticed is the need to have real Maritime malt. Right now breweries are growing local barley but then having to send it away to go through germination process into malt, and then shipping it back. We want the local barley to stay local and become Maritime malt,” MacInnes said.

Germination is the process barley seed goes through to begin its plant. It’s where the tip of the root will come out causing the chemical change in the grain, which is desired in malt, said Gallant.

“The most difficult part has really been getting the ball rolling. Planning-wise everything was OK, but to run after so many pieces to actually get it together was tough,” she said.

He added, “for me the toughest spot was when we were about 85 per cent of the way there, but a piece of the funding fell through, but if it hadn’t we wouldn’t be in the old courthouse.”

On the other hand, the best part of the journey is seeing MacInnes’ dream come true, said Gallant.

“Trying to figure out how we could come to rural P.E.I and realizing how we could make it happen has been the best thing.”

The excitement of something new is the couple’s favourite part of the adventure.

“For P.E.I. it’s still an innovative product to develop. The work that is being done to develop new malts and new hops is really cool.”

“I think being on the forefront of something, being part of something really new and being ahead of things is really neat.”

Gallant and MacInnes are hoping to have product available for craft breweries by this summer.

Millicent.mckay@tc.tc

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