Evaluating Alternative Malting Barley Varieties and their Acceptance in the Northeast Craft Brewing Community

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer
Funds awarded in 2019: $14,509.00
Projected End Date: 04/15/2020
Grant Recipient: Buck Farms
Region: Northeast
State: Maine
Project Leader:
Jacob Buck
Maine Malt House


  • Agronomic: barley


  • Crop Production: crop improvement and selection, crop rotation, varieties and cultivars
  • Farm Business Management: value added

    Proposal summary:

    The Maine craft brewing industry is comprised of over 120 breweries, 2 commercial malt houses, and approximately 60 farms producing malting barley. Historically Newdale has been the variety of choice for Maine barley growers contracting with commercial grain elevators. The expansion of the craft brewing industry in the Northeast has maltsters and brewers asking for alternative and additional malting barley varieties for use in their beers. Fortunately research specific to agronomic and malting performance of barley cultivars in the Northeast has been ongoing for the past 4 growing seasons with 2 locations in Maine.

    Recent demand from Northeast breweries make this an opportune time to advance some of the varieties from research to field scale evaluation. Using information from the Uniform Eastern Spring Malting Barley Nursery (UESMBN) project, this proposal will trial 2 promising varieties ; LCS Genie and KWS Tinka against Newdale to evaluate their agronomic and malt quality performance on our farm and in our malt house in Mapleton, Maine. Malted samples from these varieties will be sent to brewers throughout the Northeast for inclusion in the beers they produce to see if there are benefits to replacing or growing additional varieties to Newdale. Results will be disseminated at field days and at the Maine Grain Conference as well as submitted to Northeast SARE as a final report. The information derived from this proposal will benefit the 60 barley growers in Maine and barley growers throughout the Northeast.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    This project seeks to compare the agronomic performance of 2 malting barley varieties; LCS Genie and KWS Tinka to Newdale. We will evaluate these varieties using a similar system used in the UESMBN project; yield, visual foliar disease severity, height, lodging, evenness of ripening, and heading date. Samples will be sent for laboratory analysis for evaluation of thousand kernel weight, test weight, DON (vomitoxin), pre-harvest sprouting, and germination energy. We will then use our existing malting system to malt these varieties and analyze them for extract yield and beta glucan levels. Malted samples will be sent to local breweries interested in using these varieties for inclusion in their beer production.

    The primary objective of this proposal is to determine if LCS Genie and KWS Tinka perform better than, similar to, or inferior to Newdale and identify if they have the potential to hold a place in the regional craft brewing industry.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.