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Beer has been part of our national culture and heritage for centuries. Once safer to drink than water, ale is such a significant part of our past that it was mentioned in 1215 in the Magna Carta, one of the most important legal documents in our national history.

Maris Otter LogoThere are more beer styles originating from Britain being brewed across the world than from any other nation. And National Beer Day (or Beer Day Britain) is here to celebrate that on June 15th – the day that the Magna Carta was signed over 800 years ago!

We, at Crisp Malt are celebrating it by giving credit to one of our longest running heritage varieties malt, Maris Otter. Maris barley has been grown by some of our farmers since 1965 and although it fell out of fashion in the late ‘80s, in preference to new varieties being easier to grow and producing better yields, a consortium of grain merchants felt that its superior flavour attributes were too good to be lost. They revived the variety in the 90’s to become the popular heritage brand that sold across the world today. It is one of very few varieties of malting barley to have been grown for over 50 years and being sold on its variety name. It particularly favours our surrounding maritime climate and chalk soils of the Norfolk countryside where our maltings are at Great Ryburgh.

Floor MaltingMalting this vintage variety requires extra skill and care to ensure we get the best from it, so brewers can make superior premium products from it. We offer Maris Otter malted using our Saladin boxes or No. 19 Maris Otter, which is produced on our traditional floor maltings then gently kilned over three days in our naturally drafted kiln which adds to the depth of flavour.

Famed for the strong bready nose that it gives its beers, it contributes a warming sweet, malty afternote with light toffee flavour on the palette and is often savoured for producing premium products. Maris has been a stalwart in many traditional ales over the years but is now also appreciated within many different beer genres to give a robust malty backbone with a sweetness that can balance out tart sours or big American hops, giving a complex, rich depth of flavour.

As a general rule, we use Maris Otter as the base malt in all of our stouts and porters and anything else with darker malts. With these styles, we’re trying to pack as much malt flavour into them as possible, so we find Maris is the perfect foundation to layer everything else on top. We also use it in a 50/50 blend with Extra Pale malt in our single hop IPA series to add a fuller mouthfeel and body as well as to slightly take the edge off the bright yellow colour of extra pale. It results in a very pale amber/gold which suits the classic IPA style.” With a colour range of 5.0-6.5 EBC (IOB) (2.5-3.5 EBC (IOB) for Extra Pale Maris Otter), it will give an outstanding golden hue, perfect for the summer pale ale

Harry Geeves, Head Brewer at Neepsend


To celebrate Beer Day Britain, what better way than to mention some of those beers that showcase the unique flavours and attributes that this beautiful heritage malt from our past possesses. Whether you love your traditional ales or one of the other hundred plus beer styles now available in the UK, beer has a strong place in our history and hearts. Beer helped many of us through endless Zoom pub quizzes during lockdown and can now be happily enjoyed sociably with friends face to face in our local pub, helping to bring communities together. So, pick your favourite pint & raise your glass to British beer!


People sitting at a table drinking beer that has been brewed with Maris Otter heritage malt on National Beer Day

British Beers brewed with Maris Otter to try:

St Austell – Tribute 4.2% (Cask or bottle)

What they say: Zesty and fresh pale ale brewed with specially sourced ingredients, including Cornish Gold malt and Maris Otter with hops from the UK and the USA. The malty base brings character and flavour and balances the beer’s fresh orange and grapefruit notes.

(Go for Proper Job if you want a citrusy IPA also brewed with Maris Otter)

Green Duck – Session IPA 4.0% (Cask)

What they say: A stunning session IPA combining British Maris Otter malt with American mosaic and Simcoe hops in a riot of blueberry, tangerine, papaya and passion fruit.

Elgoods – Cambridge Gold 3.9% (polypin or cask)

What they say: Brewed using Maris Otter Pale Ale Malt and hopped with Sovereign and Cascade hops, with the late addition of Mosaic hops, creating a beautifully balanced, hoppy, and refreshing beer.

Oakham – Any of their range – they only use Maris Otter as their base malt!

Citra is their famous one, but try JHB (3.8% cask, 4.2% bottle), the first beer brewed by Oakham Ales. What they say: Light gold in colour and distinctively smooth, with citrus fruitiness and a refreshing hoppy finish.

Butcombe – Original 4% (cask/keg), 4.5% (bottle)

Light gold in colour and distinctively smooth, with citrus fruitiness and a refreshing hoppy finish.

Hadrian Border Brewery -Tyneside Blonde 3.9% (bottle)

What they say: A pale coloured thirst-quencher, using Maris Otter malt, wheat malt and an abundance of bittering and aromatic hops.

RedWillow – Weightless Session IPA 4.2% (can)

What they say: Made with 100% Mosaic hops, pithy grapefruit and mango flavours with a well-rounded body. An uncompromisingly balanced session IPA

Bowland Brewery – Buster IPA 4.5% (bottle)

What they say: Big, strong and full of attitude yet surprisingly domesticated, this is a well-balanced light ale with tropical undertones.

Moon Gazer (Norfolk Brewhouse)

What they say: Our brewery is slap-bang in the middle of the country’s finest malting barley-growing region – so, as you would expect, we use the riches on our doorstep.

Neepsend – Ashta 8 Malt Stout 8% (can)

What they say: A blend of roasted malts, speciality crystalised malts, along with oats and wheat, combine to create this rich, full bodied stout.

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