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When your cousins grow barley for your malt . . .

This video in which Summit Brewing founder Mark Stutrud talks about the Moravian 37 barley his cousins Jim and Todd grow for the brewery isn’t overproduced and gets right to the point.

“This family homestead, in its fourth generation, produces some of the best barley in the country,” Studrud said. “We’re proud that they are committed to providing Moravian 37 barley specifically for our Pilsener.”

At 4.8 per abv and moderately hopped (Vanguard and Saaz, 25 IBU) Summit Pilsener nicely showcases the malted barley.

I’ll stick with malted barley, thank you

A company called Novozymes has introduced a new brewing enzyme “capable of working without malt and with barley as the only raw material.”

Does that sound like something you want in your beer?

Launched at Drinktec (in Germany) this week, Ondeo Pro is marketed as a tool to offer brewers freedom and flexibility than existing options. Allowing brewers to switch completely from malt to barley also helps cut costs by reducing the amount of raw material needed.

What about flavor?

There’s more to the malting process than just modifying barley so it can be used to produce alcohol. Maltsters add flavor. That’s pretty obvious when we’re talking about stuff like chocolate malt, but also true of plain ol’ pale malts.

I’ve written about this before (part I and part II) so won’t belabor the point.

Several American brewers attend Drinktech, so maybe one or more of them will have insights to share next week at the Great American Beer Festival.

Malt (and barley) matters: Part II

The SessionAnd now – taking a break from our swim in the pool of listmania – we return to our regularly scheduled conversation about what makes the beer we drink different.

So time for Barley Part II (you knew I had another old image I was itching to show you).

In his Great Beers of Belgium, Michael Jackson writes about how Brother Thomas – then the brewing director at Westmalle – favored malts from Beatrice-Gatinais in France because of their softness, but the varieties he chose each year varied. That would indicate he was more concerned with quality than consistency, but that is another conversation. The point would be that he recognized that not all two-row pilsner malt is created equal.

Jackson describes how important this was to Brother Thomas: “In discussing a malt from elsewhere, widely used by other brewers, I asked whether he thought it was perhaps a trifle harsh. ‘It’s brutal!’ he replied, thumping the table.”

Brother Thomas may have been a little harsh himself, but the fact is that two different varieties of barley – let’s say Optic and Scarlett – kilned to the same color and then used precisely the same way in a recipe may produce beers that taste noticeably different. One might showcase hop bitterness, another a richer malt character. One isn’t necessarily better (or the other “brutal”) but they are different.

Weyermann Malting® in Bavaria proved this to a panel of industry members, including many brewers, a few years ago. Weyermann brewed four pilsners on its pilot system, each with malt produced from a different barley, and in a blind tasting the panelists had no trouble telling them apart.

As a result, some breweries have since begun ordering pilsner malt made from a specific barley. This isn’t necessarily realistic for your average small brewery and certainly not for the local brewpub you should be stopping by tonight.

So maybe I don’t have a point, but it seems like information you should have.

Barley Part I (in cased you missed it).

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