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Welcome to Norfolk, where the sun shines down on fields of Maris Otter barley, which grows up from the light chalk and sandy soils and sways in the cool sea breeze. Here is home to some small, secret plots of land that continue the story of Maris Otter, the world-renowned variety of malting barley.

Maris Otter Barley fields in Norfolk, UK.Maris Otter barley was bred from a cross from Proctor and Pioneer at the Plant Breeding Institute near Cambridge, with the name coming from the institute’s location in Maris Lane (they also bred the Maris Piper potato). Its first commercial crop was in 1965 and farmers supplying Crisp were quick to plant the new winter malting barley, liking the way it grew in Norfolk’s maritime climate, and how it matured slowly to give––courtesy of the free-draining soil––a high-quality, low-nitrogen crop which is ideal for the maltsters.

Brewers liked it too, and production rapidly increased. Throughout the 1970s it was the dominant malting barley in Britain, used to brew the country’s finest cask ales, and noted for its rich biscuity flavour.

A loyal variety

But the history of malting barley is one of constant change. New varieties usually replace old ones within a few years, with agronomics––rather than brewing qualities and flavour––driving the decisions. While No 19 Maris Otter has always had its hugely desirable malt characters, and has always worked superbly in the brewhouse, farmers started to struggle with it. Seed quality had diminished and it was out-yielded by its own offspring such as Pipkin and Halcyon. It declined almost to the point of disappearance.

However, Maris Otter remained important to a few brewers loyal to the variety, liking it for how it always performed consistently in the brewhouse, and gave its distinct flavour to many different beer styles. This encouraged grain merchants H. Banham Ltd and Robin Appel Ltd to buy the rights to Maris Otter and to set about improving the quality of the seeds, enabling farmers to continue to grow it and brewers to continue to make beer with it.

What our customers say

I love the stuff.  Our ESB’s silver medal at this years WBC was all crisp malts. I love brewing with Maris Otter because it has a great classic flavor and adds a nice body without making the beer heavy.  Crisp’s Maris Otter has proven to be my preferred brand because of its quality and consistency throughout our process, from “grain to glass.”  I made the switch to Crisp 2 years ago and I haven’t looked back.  I highly recommend it.

Andrew Horne, Director of Brewing Operations, Conshohocken Brewing Co

Re-selection operation  

It became a rescue operation, and that involved a lot of ‘re-selection.’ The best stock of grain was identified and the best ears from that stock were hand-picked for propagation. Every ear of barley was manually checked and anything not absolutely perfect was discarded. The pure, true-to-type seeds were sown on a small plot of land, and the resulting crops were used to plant the Mother Field, which produced enough seed for farmers to grow on for the maltsters.

The Banham team continues this re-selection practice today, using a secret 30m2 plot and two Mother Fields hidden in the wilds of North Norfolk. (H. Banham and Robin Appel are still Maris Otter’s joint owners today.) Regular re-selection is essential to guarantee that the variety remains of the highest quality and true-to-type over time, while controlling the supply of seeds makes sure that it’s grown only by the best growers on the most suitable soils––and that their payment reflects the extra efforts they put in, which is why there’s always been a premium on Maris Otter malt.

Traditionally crafted for an authentic taste

Norfolk is the heartland of Maris Otter barley. The Mother Field is just a short drive from our Great Ryburgh maltings, and some of our farmers have grown Maris Otter for over 50 years. As part of our celebration of this classic British grain, we continue to malt some of it in our No.19 floor maltings. It’s a slow and gentle process, and the unique shape of the malthouse is able to give a malt with a fuller aroma and greater complexity than the regular malting process, making it a truer taste of traditional Maris Otter.

Really that’s what’s important with these heritage malts: flavour, and giving brewers a broader choice of ingredients for their different beer styles. There’s never been more interest in the flavour and aroma of hops, with drinkers now able to identify their favourite varieties with one sniff. These heritage malts–No.19 Maris Otter, Chevallier, Plumage Archer and Haná–can have the same influence on drinkers.

The most distinctive flavour of No 19 Maris Otter malt, is its rich biscuity depth, which works so well in British ales, from Bitters to Pale Ales to Stouts. It’s now re-emerging as a hero of craft beer as brewers are discovering––or re-discovering––the flavours it delivers.

Grown and malted in Norfolk and essentially limited edition, No 19 Maris Otter malt is sought after by discerning craft brewers around the world. They turn to it for its quality, consistency and reliability in the mash tun, and because no other malted barley can match its distinctive flavours.

No.19 Maris Otter is small-batch, with the grain grown near to our malthouse, and floor-malted by hand. You know where to come for the best-known and most-loved malting barley around the world. Welcome to Norfolk, home of Maris Otter.

To get your hands on the flavoursome No 19 Maris Otter malt, get in touch with us today. Click here to find out more about No 19 Maris Otter malt flavour and some recipes our brewers have put together.


What our customers say

We use Crisp simply because the quality of the malts is consistently unbeatable. The beers we produce with Maris Otter malt have won medals at national and international competitions multiple times. I’m confident that the high quality of the base malt is a big contributing factor to those medals. For our English style beers (Sweet Josie Brown, Deadeye Jack Porter), I feel like Crisp Maris Otter malt gives us the best base malt profile. It’s unique in that it contributes a rich full malt flavor that we seem to find only in that malt. I would absolutely recommend other brewers to use Crisp base malts such as the Marris Otter and Chevallier heritage malts. When making a malt forward beer or an IPA that needs some malt backbone to stand up to hops, Crisp malts can’t be beat. The uniformity of the kernels and consistency of the malt is really amazing.

Lonerider Brewery, Winner of 4 GABF Medals



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