For Great Malt you need Great Barley

One of Barley Malt farmers in the UK, stands beside hos combine harvester in the field after harvest. Ian Green at Corskie Farm in Morayshire, Scotland harvests his Laureate for Distilling Malt Production

Our malting sites in Scotland, England, Germany, and Poland are a hive of activity all year round, but even more so at harvest. From July to September farmers harvest their two-row malting barley and send it in to the maltings for drying and storage. It cannot be stated more plainly; without high-quality barley, we cannot make high-quality malt, so our farmers are very important to us.

It should come as no great surprise that our malting sites are located close to where the agricultural action is at. The East of the UK is prime malting barley growing land with light sandy soil favoring the production of low nitrogen spring barley like Laureate and low nitrogen winter barley like the prized Maris Otter and Flagon. Norfolk is especially suited to these types of English two-row barley not only due to the soil but also the weather; the North of the county near our Great Ryburgh maltings sticks out into the North Sea and therefore enjoys even temperatures and moisture levels throughout the growing season, perfect for growing this type of barley. The same goes for the East of Scotland. It’s in Scottish counties like Aberdeenshire, Moray, Fife and East Lothian where we work with farmers to grow barley destined for our Portgordon and Alloa Maltings and our Premium Pot Still and Peated Malts.

The UK Barley Map

Map of our barley malt facilities across England and Soctland for brewers and distillers.

For Great Barley Malt you need Great Farmers

Soil and weather only go so far when it comes to producing quality and consistency. The human touch is an absolute must, so we have developed long-term commitments to farmers over the years. We work directly with hundreds of farmers across the United Kingdom. Please take a minute to get to know some of them.

Maris Otter®: Norfolk Heirloom

Tony Bambridge has been farming Maris Otter® on four hundred acres of North Norfolk land for 40 years, just 18 miles from our maltings. We asked him what makes Maris Otter® so special to this part of the world.

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As easy as ABC

Some maltsters own a merchanting division to control the supply of grain from the field as closely as possible. Others will simply buy barley on the spot market at harvest, but this doesn’t give any long-term security to the farmers. At Crisp Malt we know that secure and happy farmers produce consistent grain, so nearly 15 years ago, we established the ABC Grower Group.

The ABC grower group is a tripartite agreement between two of our local farm merchants Adams & Howling and H Banhams alongside ourselves, Crisp Malt, hence the ABC. This agreement guarantees three-year rolling contracts to approximately 180 local farmers in Norfolk, England, to grow our winter and spring two-row barleys. We have a committee of farmers that forms part of the ABC steering group, and we meet with them regularly to discuss what varieties will be required in the coming years. We regularly host farmers at the maltings and we encourage our customers to visit us and our farmers to learn more about the time and skill that goes into growing their barley and the malting process.

In a normal growing year the ABC group provides about 90,000 tons of our bulk two-row malting barley requirements for our Great Ryburgh, Ditchingham and Mistley. A key part of the ABC group is the steering committee, consisting of the merchants and four farmers, who meet to talk about where we are going and what varieties we want for the year ahead; this allows us to introduce varieties quicker than just relying on the normal market and in turn, we can offer our customers a better selection of malting barley options.

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