Big hop for Vancouver malt supplier

Great Western Malting’s craft beer subsidiary Country Malt doubles space with new facility

By Troy Brynelson, Columbian staff writer

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Craft beer continues to pay off for Great Western Malting Co.

The Vancouver malt supplier will take over Sunlight Supply’s old space at the Port of Vancouver after port commissioners voted 3-0 to approve the move. Sunlight Supply, which sells hydroponic gardening supplies and lighting, recently constructed a new, much larger facility in the Centennial Industrial Park.

The move more than doubles space for Country Malt, its subsidiary that specializes in craft beer supplies.

Executives for the malt companies said more growth is in the hopper after it made big investments in new equipment over the past year. The new space also helps bring 12 workers from other Vancouver locations under one roof.

“We’ve been growing considerably for the last several years,” said Brian Bechard, president of Country Malt, though he declined to be more specific. “As craft beer continues to grow throughout the years, we’ve needed to increase that capacity.”

U.S. beer sales plateaued in 2016, according to the Brewers Association, but sales of craft beer grew 10 percent. The craft beer segment netted $23.5 billion last year, nearly a quarter of all beer sales.

“As they grow, so do we,” said Bechard, noting that Vancouver alone has added microbreweries year after year. “What you’re seeing in the Vancouver area is very similar to what’s happening in other markets in the U.S. — a drive toward local, smaller breweries whose distribution isn’t much further than the end of a bar.”

Country Malt has 11 distribution centers across North America.

Great Western Malting is itself a subsidiary of the Australian firm, GrainCorp.

The deal extends Country Malt’s lease until 2037. The Port of Vancouver expects to earn $15.7 million in rent over the course of those 20 years.