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New blockchain beer tells the farm-to-glass story

The road from field to glass is a long one for the malt barley that goes in your beer.

And now you can join it on its journey, thanks to a new blockchain beer made, malted, and brewed in Alberta.

“The whole idea was to track the farm-to-glass story,” said Natasha Peiskar, head brewer at Last Best Brewing and Distilling.

“We tracked all the steps from the field all the way into the beer using blockchain technology.”

As the craft beer movement grows, consumers are becoming more and more interested in the story behind their beer, said Last Best Brewing’s head brewer Natasha Peiskar.
photo: Supplied

The journey for this particular malt barley — Newdale, to be exact — started on a quarter section located at W½-29-36-27-W4 on Hamill Farms near Penhold, where they harvested 23,245 bushels on Sept. 6. SGS Canada inspected the barley on Oct. 4 and reported a moisture content of 12.7 per cent and a protein content of 10.9 per cent.

The grain was then picked up by a truck (LPY 812) and transported to Canada Malting Company in Calgary, where it was unloaded into Malt Silo #50 and then malted into a base malt in D House on Nov. 15. Another truck (LPY 922) sent it back to Red Shed Malting near Penhold, where some of it was specialty malted (malt type: chocolate) in the Toper roasting house. It was packaged on Dec. 2 in 50-pound poly-lined paper bags and then trucked (LPY 834) to Last Best Brewing and Distilling in Calgary. There, they brewed a Bock-style beer on Dec. 11, producing 609 flats of Bock Chain beer.

If it seems like a lot of information for a single can of beer, it absolutely is.

But in a world where consumers increasingly want to know where their food — or beverage — comes from, blockchain technology is making it easier to show them every step of the way.

“One of the benefits of blockchain technology is the traceability,” said Matt Hamill, co-owner of Red Shed Malting.

“That’s a key part of what we do at Red Shed Malting. We always say we’re local, traceable, and sustainable. This is a way to show that off.”

Brothers Joe (left) and Matt Hamill malt the barley grown on their family’s farm.
photo: Bock Chain Beer video

And they’re hoping that the people who buy Bock Chain will decide to dig a little deeper into their beer. On each can is a QR code that, once scanned, leads to a landing page that shows the different stages of the beer production process through videos, photos, interviews, and biographies.

This whole project was made easier through blockchain technology, which allows digital information to be shared but not copied or corrupted. And that’s vital in an industry where traceability is becoming more and more important.

“Blockchain is kind of like an open ledger. It’s clear for anyone to see the information they want,” said Hamill. “There are a lot of things that farmers are doing that all too often fly under the radar, and blockchain is a technology that makes it completely transparent for the consumer.

“We’re proud of our farming practices and proud of what we do in the malt house, and this is one way to show that off.”

By using photos and videos, the partners behind Bock Chain hope to connect consumers to the story behind their beer.

“There are some consumers who just want to crack a beer and enjoy it, but I think this whole farm-to-table movement has been gaining a ton of steam,” said Peiskar.

“With beer — and the craft beer movement in particular — people are becoming more and more aware of what’s going into the finished product. So for those who are interested, they now have an opportunity to look into it and see that whole process.

“We can really celebrate that Alberta-grown story.”

Last Best Bock Chain launched Feb. 1 at the Jasper Beer and Barley Summit and will be available in cans at liquor stores across Alberta. To view the blockchain, visit bockchain.te-food.com.

About the author

Reporter

Jennifer Blair is a Red Deer-based reporter with a post-secondary education in professional writing and nearly 10 years of experience in corporate communications, policy development, and journalism. She's spent half of her career telling stories about an industry she loves for an audience she admires--the farmers who work every day to build a better agriculture industry in Alberta.

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