Haná is arguably the most important landrace barley in the world.

Landrace plants are the foundation of all good beer ingredients. The term landrace means a selected strain of a plant naturally developed in one place, so it’s perfectly adapted to the local growing conditions, taking on distinctive characteristics.

And it was the Haná Valley in Movaria (now the east of Czechia) that Haná barley first grew and developed its distinctive characteristics.

A modest creation…

The barley became famous because of its use in a beer brewed in the city of Pilsen, some 200 miles west of Moravia. In Pilsen, the malt was used to brew the world’s first Pilsner lager, an iconic beer famous for its bright golden colour.

In the late summer of 1842, as Chevallier was bringing its rich flavours to Victorian India Pale Ales in Britain, the people of Pilsen were preparing for the first brew at their town’s new Citizens’ Brewery, one they collectively owned and had been building for over three years.

Josef Groll, a Bavarian brewmaster, was hired to make the beer. He sourced barley from the Haná Valley and instructed his maltsters to use English malting technology––something new to central Europe––which would produce a pale-coloured malt. It was a revolutionary decision as almost all European malt at that time was heavily kilned and gave a dark beer.

The Citizens’ Brewery beer used a triple decoction mash – featuring landrace hops grown in the nearby Žatec region – lagered in cellars beneath the city for five weeks. The beer was a revelation—the world’s first golden lager. Pale malted Haná barley went on to define what became the world’s most popular beer style: Pilsner.

For many years, the new beer was deeply rooted in Pilsen because of the superb quality of the landrace barley and hops it was brewed with.

Haná Valley barley was prized for its superior agronomic qualities, its brewing characteristics, and its flavour. It became integral to a barley development programme carrying the original Haná genes into new varieties all around Europe, making it the genetic progeny of modern malting barley and one of the most influential malting barleys of all time­––if not the most influential malting barley.

What our customers say

As primarily a lager brewery, brewing with Haná Malt offered us an opportunity to explore a very traditional malt with distinct historical connections. Low modification coupled with an intensive mashing regime gave us a very pale and well-attenuated beer, with clean hints of freshly germinating barley. We were thrilled with the result.

Alex Troncoso, Co-Founder, Lost and Grounded Brewery, Bristol

The revival

Like other heritage barleys such as Maris Otter, Chevallier and Plumage Archer, Haná was replaced by newer varieties with improved growing qualities (mostly derived from Haná’s gene pool), and it disappeared from fields in the early 1900s. A century later, we saw the potential to revive this storied malt for lager brewers looking to add a taste of history to their modern beers.

Hana barley growing in Norfolk, UKWorking with Dr Sarah De Vos at New Heritage Barley, we used two consecutive growing seasons a year by flying the seed grain between Norfolk and New Zealand, speeding up the ability to get commercial scale quantities. Our local farmer, Ben Hipperson, near Kings Lynn, now grows a few hundred tonnes of Haná in light soils which replicate the free-draining land of the Haná Valley. The inaugural crop was harvested in 2019 and malted in our No.19 floor maltings, which dates back to the same era as this historic barley, and where we get a malt that’s particularly low colour.

It’s the purity and simplicity of flavour that makes Haná stand out today. It gives beer the cleanest malt flavour, a very light depth, and it really showcases brewing skill. Given Haná’s relatively complex protein matrix, we’ve found the best results come with a step mash or even a decoction mash, just like it would have been done in Pilsen. That process will naturally enhance the malt’s subtle smooth sweetness and fresh baked bread flavours.

Once lost, now grounded (in beers)

When Macclesfield’s Redwillow Brewery made a lager with that inaugural 2019 crop, they were the first brewery to use Haná Malt in over 100 years, while Lost & Grounded Brewery in Bristol and Howard Town Brewery in Glossop were the first to use 2020’s harvest. We even see great potential for Haná malt to be used in hoppy Blonde and Golden Ales.Pilsner beer brewed with Hana Malt Heritage Malt

Lost & Grounded used 100% Haná Malt in an English lager beer alongside Kent-grown hops from Hukins Hops. The inspiration was the traditional Landbiers of Bavaria––beers brewed with all local ingredients, simple, classic, and much-loved––only with all English barley and hops. The lager was very pale gold and gave a crisp, pleasant malt depth, distinctly Czech-tasting even though it was grown in Norfolk, and enhanced by a decoction mash, while the hops added a noble-like lemon and herbal quality.

For lager brewing, there is no other barley variety with the history or character of Haná Malt, and it’s more than a heritage malt; it’s a legacy grain that continues to be written into the stories of modern beer.

Find out more about our Haná Malt here , and if you would like to get your hands on some of this wonderfully pale malt, get in touch with our team.

What our customers say

The lovely pale color and fresh baguette notes we got from the Haná Pils impressed; we’d definitely acquire more, were it to become available again.

Ryan Blandford, Head Brewer, Taft’s Brewing Co

Our Heritage Malt Range