Improving Barley Malt Quality Attracts Brewers from Five Countries

August 20, 2008

Improving Barley Malt Quality Attracts Brewers from Five Countries

Fargo, N.D., USA--Nine participants from brewing and malt companies in five countries are attending the Barley Malt Quality Evaluation technical course at Northern Crops Institute (NCI) this week. Maltsters and brewers attending the course represent companies in Belgium, Canada, India, Japan, and U.S.

Dr. Paul Schwarz, NDSU professor of plant science, is program coordinator and instructor in the course. 

During the course, the group will learn more about the quality components of barley and malt necessary to produce an acceptable beer. Course topics include U.S. barley production and variety development, barley malt production technology, barley quality evaluation, specialty malts and extracts, malt biochemistry and analysis, food safety issues, and a biotechnology update on barley.

Alain Caekaert, an instructor in the course and director of barley procurement and logistics for Euro Malt, will discuss the world barley malt supply and demand situation. 

“I think the largest challenge for the U.S. malting industry is to keep sustainable barley production,” comments Caekaert.  “Barley competes with many other commodities for acres. Varieties are the key to production.  High prices will attract farmers to growing barley, but if he doesn’t have a variety that performs well, he will not raise it.  NDSU has the only six-row barley breeding production, and we need to support it.  Acres will not go up, but we need to keep the acres we have,” he concludes.

Additional instructors include Judd Carlson, Busch Ag Resources; Dr. Lynn Dahleen, USDA Northern Crop Science Laboratory; Dr. Richard Horsley, NDSU barley breeder and professor of plant science; Dave Kuske, Briess Malting Co.; and Jess Theis, Rahr Malting Company.

In addition to lectures, the group will tour the Busch Agricultural Resources Elevator Operations in West Fargo, N.D., hosted by David Jacobson, and the Busch Agricultural Resources Inc. Malt House, Moorhead, Minn., hosted by Greg Ballentine, plant manager.  They will also visit the NDSU barley greenhouse and breeding plots to see demonstrations of gene mapping and barley breeding, and the NCI/NDSU Malt Analysis Laboratory.

American Society of Brewing Chemists, Institute of Barley and Malt Sciences, and NCI co-sponsor the course. 

North Dakota and Montana ranked number one and three respectively in U.S. barley production in 2007.  Thirty-seven percent of total U.S. barley is produced in N.D.  Six-row barley is the predominate type of malting barley grown in the Midwest.

Northern Crops Institute supports regional agriculture and value-added processing by conducting technical education and services that expand and maintain domestic and international markets for northern-grown crops.