Farm-to-Glass: Performance Testing Different Varieties of Malting Barley

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2018: $19,908.00
Projected End Date: 06/30/2019
Grant Recipient: Bob Adams
Region: Western
State: California
Principal Investigator:
Bob Adams
Bob Adams

Information Products

The Malt Project (Website)
The Malt Project: 2018 Updates (Conference/Presentation Material)


  • Agronomic: barley


  • Crop Production: varieties and cultivars, Processing and product evaluation
  • Education and Training: demonstration
  • Farm Business Management: farm-to-restaurant, market study
  • Sustainable Communities: local and regional food systems, new business opportunities

    Proposal summary:

    California growers are susceptible to commodity price fluctuations. One option in alleviating
    commodity price stress is seeking out higher-value alternative crops. An ideal option for
    California is malting barley as it can replace wheat as a winter grass in crop rotations and
    typically fetches a higher price per acre than wheat.
    As the craft brewing industry develops in California and malt houses begin to spring up in the
    state to meet the demand for locally-sourced barley, California growers stand to benefit from
    varieties of barley that are regionally specific to the states diverse ‘terroirs’. Growth in the
    malting barley industry also increases the chances that growers will cover their fields with a crop
    in winter rather than leaving land fallow if wheat prices are too low. This can provide numerous
    benefits related to reducing soil erosion, runoff, and nitrate leaching into groundwater.
    This project will bridge the gap from farm to glass in evaluating both agronomic and brewing
    performance of five different malting barley varieties grown in the same agronomic
    conditions with carefully controlled malting regimes.
    Thereby this project aims to:
    • Provide information and data which will reduce market entry barriers for growers,
    improve grower capacity to produce quality malting barley, improve grower ability to
    negotiate stronger contracts, and in conjunction with University of California’s Statewide
    variety trials, select more appropriate varieties for their conditions;
    • Provide additional data to maltsters and brewers to build industrial capacity in the region;
    • Participate in a public awareness campaign to raise awareness among consumers of the
    role that different varieties of barley play in their beverages.
    By using available tools to meet the challenge of developing markets and uncertain commodity
    prices, growers stand to benefit as the local craft brewing grows.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    1) Generate supplemental data to ongoing statewide variety trials in growth, yield, disease
    resistance, and post-harvest grain quality of four varieties of California-appropriate
    barley and one variety of heritage malting barley (Klages malting barley).
    2) Malt five varieties of malting barley in different 500lb batches with different kilning
    regimes (pilsner malt, pale malt, 8 Lovibond Munich, 30 Lovibond Chocolate).
    3) Brew separate beers styles with each of the five varieties according to standardized
    brewing practices (i.e. helles lager, pale ale, India pale ale, amber/red, stout…).
    4) Quantify tasting notes from panel of cicerones and volunteers.
    5) Evaluate final barley/ beer combinations for key brewing quality factors. Primarily:
    extract yield, pH, residual sugars (% and profile), stability, FAN, protein, and turbidity.
    6) Publish a malting barley production guide for California growers on UC Websites.
    7) Publish brewing results in 2-3 popular brewing periodicals, and among 2-3 large
    California periodicals to generate public interest and awareness.
    8) Present agronomic findings to growers at UCCE grower meetings throughout the state;
    9) Present malting/ brewing findings to the craft brewing industry;
    10) Track production capacity of California malt houses and acreage under malting barley

    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.