Alberta Carriage Supply, in conjunction with Eau Claire Distillery, hosted an event, Aug. 26, to bind barley and get it ready for threshing at a later date.
Cheri Hamelin, office manager for Alberta Carriage Supply, said their team provides a team of horses to aid in the process, which is aimed to mimic how early farmers and settlers would process the yield.
“Every year, barley is put into the ground that is earmarked to be harvested with Alberta Carriage Supply and Eau Claire Distillery … using draft horses and early implements. Once that is ready to be harvested, we do the first phase, of that which is the binding,” she said. “Our horses are hooked up to the binder and it puts everything into a pile, and then we have several volunteers who come out and help us put them into stooks.”
For those who are unfamiliar, a stook is a standing formation of barley meant to aid in the drying process. Once the barley is dry, it can be threshed.
Dale Befus, owner of Alberta Carriage Supply, said their team aims to provide the experience of processing a yield the way it used to be done.
“It is a bit of a tribute to them and doing it the old-fashioned way seems to have a bit of terroir to it and on Saturday, we had close to 50 volunteers out,” he said.
This year marked the ninth year Eau Claire Distillery has partnered with Alberta Carriage Supply and put on the binding event for public participation.
Angie Lang, marketing brand manager for Eau Claire Distillery, said their team is the only distillery in the world to still utilize the archaic and heritage methods for harvesting barley.
“It just makes it really special and we get a bunch of volunteers to come and harvest with us, so it is honestly a big community building event, and then all those volunteers can drink our whiskey knowing what they did goes into that,” said Lang. “This helps us on the education part and helps people understand the hard work that goes in to make spirits for Eau Claire.”
The process takes place across the entirety of the eight acres of land which provide Eau Claire with their source barley.
Befus added once the barley has been threshed, a celebratory long table dinner is hosted, featuring Eau Claire’s whiskey, which has already been sold out.
The threshing event will be taking place Sept. 9, having been two weeks following the initial binding of the grain.
John Watson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times