Being open to new ideas creates opportunity

Farm family isn’t fearful of doing something different if someone is passionate about it

When Kyle Geeraert was getting his start in agriculture one of his stops was managing a grain company, where he and wife Meleah were exposed to some new malting equipment they thought had promise.

Meleah happened to have some connections in the industry. She is the daughter of Spencer and Lynne Hilton and malting barley has been a major success story for the family farming operation. The young couple took the idea of an on-farm malting company back to the Hilton family and Origin Malting and Brewing was born.

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While it’s early in the game, so far it looks like a good decision. Company facilities were established in nearby Strathmore for easy access. Origin produces malt and has added a brewhouse to make and sell its own beer.

While Origin is a relatively small part of the Hiltons’ malt barley production, the growth potential looks solid. The company got its name because the malt used to make the beer can be traced back to its ‘origin’ — the individual field that produced it. It’s a powerful message that resonates in the quality-conscious craft beer industry and fits well with marketing tools such as social media.

“Alberta is known as the champagne of the barley world so there is endless market for that brand,” said Kyle, who manages the business with Meleah. “Beer is a growth market. I believe rural breweries are the next big thing. Rural Alberta is underserved so we are seeing good growth as a result.”

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