12 July 2002

End of an era as malt barley contest is axed

BRITAINS national malting barley contest has been axed, marking the end of an era when malting barley quality was assessed by eye rather than machine.

"Malting barley is now traded as a commodity, not by sample, and modern technology means grain size, germination, nitrogen and moisture content can all be assessed by machine," says Mike Gutsell of the Institute and Guild of Brewing,

With visual inspection less popular and traditional thin-skinned, low nitrogen barleys in less demand as higher nitrogen lager malts dominate, interest in the competition had dwindled. "We are not saying quality is unimportant, just that the way it is assessed has changed," says Mr Gutsell.

Cost also played a part in the competitions demise. The Maltsters Association of Great Britain, which now manages the publicity work of the IGB, feels limited funds could be better used elsewhere.

The competition, which started in the 1890s, reflected a time when maltsters had to submit samples of barley to individual brewers for approval before malt sales were agreed. &#42