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.
“Norfolk, and especially this area in the north close to the sea, is one of the best places for growing malting barley in the world. We jut out into the North Sea which means we get a maritime climate that regulates the summer temperatures and provides moist air. This ensures a long, slow maturation of the barley with no intense heat.
The other factor that makes for superb barley is the light, sandy, free draining soil. This means the soil doesn’t hold onto nitrogen and results in a very low protein crop. We also have lots of naturally high levels of phosphate which aids in plant health.
We work with Crisp, and our merchant Banhams, because of the personal relationships we’ve built up over the years. It feels like very much a team effort. We are proud of the fact that the crop is local, has low food miles and is a named barley that goes into named products.
We produce other crops and we don’t know where they will eventually end up, but with our Maris Otter® we can see the beers in the pub and that is rewarding. All the better when we occasionally get to drink some of it!
A lot of care and attention goes into growing Maris Otter®. It’s not easy and the farm yield is poor compared to other malting barleys but those relationships, the ability of this terroir to produce consistently superior grain year in year out means we will be growing Maris Otter® for a long time to come. ”
Norfolk, and especially this area in the north close to the sea, is one of the best places for growing malting barley in the world.