Alberta Barley

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Malt or malted barley is made from malting barley, the former being the processed grain and the latter being the unprocessed grain.

Malt barley is mainly used to flavour beer and spirits. Malt extract is also used around the world in many foods—from cookies and cakes to beverages and baby foods—to enhance flavour, colour, fermentation and aroma, as well as improve texture and shelf life and enrich nutritional content.

Malting barley is a demanding crop. It requires a combination of precise production, harvest conditions and storage. If all of these can be achieved and the grain meets maltsters’ strict quality specifications, malting barley can command premium prices and be processed into malt.

The Brewing and Malting Barley Research Institute (BMBRI) says high quality malting barley should have the following characteristics:

  • Pure lot of an acceptable variety
  • Germination of 95 per cent or higher (three-day test)
  • Protein content of 11 to 12.5 per cent (dry basis)
  • Moisture content of 13.5 per cent maximum
  • Plump kernels of uniform size
  • Fully mature
  • No signs of pre-harvest germination
  • Free of DON from Fusarium head blight
  • Free from disease
  • Free from frost damage
  • Not weathered or deeply stained
  • Less than five per cent peeled and broken kernels
  • Free from heat damage
  • Free of insects, admixtures, ergot, treated seeds, smut and odour
  • Free of chemical residues

Malting barley that does not meet maltsters’ specifications is by no means wasted—it’s used as livestock feed. Malting barley is an important crop, both to Alberta’s barley sector and Alberta’s agricultural industry.

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