M-63: Heritage barley varieties—Going back for the future?

D. GRIGGS (1), C. Ridout (2), S. de Vos (2), K. Thomas (3); (1) Crisp Malting Group, Fakenham, U.K.; (2) John Innes Centre, Norwich, U.K.; (3) Brewlab, Sunderland, U.K.


Maris Otter continues to hold a special place in the maltster and brewer’s portfolio of malting barley varieties and is rapidly approaching its 50th anniversary of commercial production. Even so Maris Otter is a relative youngster in comparison to other heritage varieties we are exploring for their potential for reintroduction into modern malting and brewing. These heritage varieties connect our 21st century processes with those of the late-19th and early-20th centuries. Our first focus is on Chevallier, which was first selected in the 1820s and was at its peak utilization in the late Victorian era, covering 80–90% of the U.K. barley area. Given that it’s over 100 years since Chevallier was cultivated and malted on a large scale we are relearning the agronomic and malting characteristics of the variety. Also, its brewing performance and taste contribution to beers brewed with it are being evaluated using methods undreamt of in its heyday. We feel that these niche heritage varieties will provide today’s brewers with the opportunity to connect with their forebears and to introduce a beer experience that has not been tasted for many years.

David Griggs graduated with a degree in industrial biology and then undertook doctoral research in plant biochemistry at the University of Bristol. He joined the malting industry in 1990 and worked in a number of technical roles for Pauls Malt, Greencore Malt, and Boortmalt before joining Crisp Malting Group in March 2013 as project director. Dave is an IBD diploma brewer, MAGB master maltster, and malting diploma examiner; has chaired the IBD Malting Barley Committee; and is currently chair of the MAGB Technical Committee.

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