Do You Grow Malting Barley? - Great Newsome Brewery
Many of you who visit us here at the brewery ask us about the farm and particular do we grow malting barley, a key ingredient of making great beer?
Well the answer is yes. As you know we love to celebrate our farming heritage, so here is our malting barley story and in particular the very challenging year of 2018.
Let’s Go Back.
Historically at Great Newsome we didn’t grow a great deal malting barley and we’ve been here a year or two, for four generations to be precise. The rich fertile clay soil is this area and the application of farm yard manure back on to the fields, has meant that this produces high yielding crops but it also has a downside. High nutrient levels result in high levels of nitrogen within the malting barley which is not good for making malt.
Fast Forward To 2018.
Modern technology has come to the aid of this quality problem. Soil analysis, GPS and careful crop management now mean that we can reduce the levels of nitrogen in the malting barely yet still maintain a viable yield to make it worthwhile growing on the farm. Malting barley incidentally requires a lot less artificial fertilisers and crop protection products than many other crops grown on the farm.
How Long Does Malting Barley Take To Grow.
Typically, we would like to plant the barley in February or early March should conditions allow. Harvest usually takes place late August or early September.
(Barley contains gluten. Do we brew a gluten free beer? click here)
Once The Barley Is Harvested What Happens To It Then?
The malting barley is then transported 35 miles to Muntons at Bridlington where it is turned into malt.
Has The Weather Affected Malting Barley In 2018.
This year has been a challenging time for farmers and growers in the UK. A prolonged wet and cold winter, along with the beast from the east parts 1 and 2, has meant that the start of malting barley’s life was later than usual. At Great Newsome once the window for planting was there and the conditions where good then it was all go. This year it was one weekend in late March and it was for the first time in the year a warmish day and the sun shone. The barley was planted in near perfect conditions.
What happened next was not planned. Just about a week after the little seeds were planted the heavens opened with nearly 2 inches of rain in 48 hours on to soil that below the surface was very wet from the long winter. The field flooded in places and the ground quickly became saturated. It didn’t look good for a few days but slowly the plants started to emerge. It quickly became obvious however that some plants hadn’t survived. What followed was almost like mother natures way of making up for the wet cold winter with one the hottest, driest spells in living memory, great Sleck Dust conditions you might say. At times we feared the worst because by early summer the ground was dry and cracked. This long dry period meant that the barley plants where much shorter than normal. Harvesting the malting barley in the second week of August which is what has happened is almost unheard of but that is what has happened. Surprisingly the crop yielded much more grain than anticipated earlier in the summer. and we are pleased to say the quality is exceptional which means it will be perfect for making great beer. So from weather adversity would should get the perfect pint.
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