Sunday 15 December 2019

Barley Varieties after WW II

Barley is divided into two main types: two-row and six-row. Tow-row barley was grown in the UK, Australia, Turkey and Chile. While six-row was grown in California, Australia, Morocco, Smyrna and Chile.

Before WW II, British brewers were convinced that you couldn’t brew good beer from exclusively UK two-row malt and that you need a percentage of six-row. Made from barley grown either in Chile or California. According to Jeffery this was because:

“Due to the sunnier and more equable climates of these countries as compared with the British climate these barleys were more uniform in quality and this was of distinct advantage to the maltster. Further, the coarser husk of the six-rowed varieties tended to give a better filtration in the mash tun and to prevent those filtration troubles caused by the too-close packing of the undissolved parts of the malt (known to the brewer as grains'), which form the medium through which the solution containing the extractable materials is filtered off”
"Brewing Theory and Practice" by E. J. Jeffery, 1956, page 129.

In the mid-1950s, British two-rowed barleys could be divided into two main groups:; the Goldthorpe and Chevallier types. By crossing Goldthorpe and Chevallier various new barley varieties were developed in the early 20th century. The most successful of these were Plumage-Archer, Spratt-Archer and Standwell. By the mid-1950’s, Standwell had mostly disappeared but large quantities of Plumage-Archer and Spratt-Archer were still being grown. Though in 1955 just over half the malting barley grown in the UK was Proctor, an even newer variety. 

New varieties were being developed, mostly by cross-breeding English varieties with Scandinavian ones. The latter gave better yields and were more disease-resistant, but didn’t have such good malting characteristics as English barley. By crossing, breeders were able to combine the good features of both.

Here are some of the new barley types developed in the early 1950s:

Proctor: Plumage-Archer and Kenia.
Pioneer: Spratt-Archer and a Scandinavian variety.
Carlsberg: Archer variety. 

The above is an extract from Arusterity!, my book on brewing in the immediate aftermath of WW II.
 Buy this wonderful book.

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