Presenter: Keith Thomas, University of Sunderland, Sunderland, United Kingdom. Coauthor(s): Amal Muhammed, University of Sunderland, Sunderland, United Kingdom; Christopher Ridout, Norwich Research Park, United Kingdom; Mitchell Andrews, Lincoln University, Christchurch, New Zealand; Noel Carter, University of Sunderland, Sunderland, United Kingdom.
Historic varieties of barley are rarely grown today and even more rarely used for brewing. Many were selected for the quality of their malt and suitability for brewing, but this changed when mechanical harvesting found that tall varieties were difficult to process. Breeding for shortness and productivity produced greater yields but may arguably have lost other features. This study reports work conducted on samples of historic barley varieties from the archive stocks at the John Innes Centre in the U.K., with information on their characteristics and a focus on disease resistance. Comparison between historic varieties and examples of modern varieties has provided information on growth characteristics that may relate to cultivation practices. We have found novel disease resistances that will be of value for breeding, and investigations into mechanisms of these have been pursued. This work has relevance to the selection of barley varieties to meet future needs and optimize quality for brewing applications.
Keith Thomas received his degree in biological sciences from the University of York, U.K., and his post-graduate teaching certificate from the University of Manchester. His doctoral study was on the conversion of cellulose by products to alcohol, after which he pursued his interests in the brewing applications of fermentation. In 1986 Keith established Brewlab Ltd., an independent company providing training and consultancy to the brewing industry, and in 1995 he established sister company Darwin Brewery, as a commercial brewery providing training support. Keith is currently senior lecturer in microbiology at the University of Sunderland and actively participates in brewing applications through research and consultancy.