b'O ver the past decade or so, many countries have seen an explosive growth of local beer brewers. Often born out of frustration over the mass-produced beer made from cheap ingredients, thousands of local entrepreneurs decided to enter into the competition with global brewery giants and are showcas-ing their independent craftsmanship. The brewery giants did not sit idle, and they also started introducing many different styles and flavours into their product line. As a result, were seeing changing flavours, recipes, and stories and drinking beer became less about the alcoholic content and more about the quality and experience. Barley is at the start of most beer production and barley breeders are constantly improving the crop and coming up with better varieties, both for feed and for malting. But are these new varieties reaching the brewers? European Seed inter-viewed several large, small and home breweries to get their take on the craft beer explosion, what makes a barley variety good for brewing, and if improvements are in order. Canning line. (Photo: Brewdog)BARLEY VARIETIESWe currently have a couple of barley varieties in circulation. We have malt from Germany thats malted from different varie-ties than in the UK and coloured malts (caramel malts), which are being produced from different varieties as base (pale ale malt) malts, says Leanne Edmonds, Customer Service Crew of the Brewdog company, UK. And for the speciality malts, barley varieties with a thicker husk and higher protein are being used as they handle the additional roasting better.The spokesperson of the St Sixtus Abbey, in Westvleteren, Belgium, said: Traditionally for the brewing of Westvleteren beer, the monks are using two varieties of barley malt and the brewery solely depends on the advice of its malt distributor.Koos de Korte is brewer at the Brasserie Artisanale de Grilly which is a microbrewery in the Ain department in France. It is a small company, run by three passionate brewers. Our firstBottling Westvleteren beer. (Photo: St Sixtus Abbey, Westvleteren)beer was brewed in September 2017, and our current annual production is 400 hectolitre. On average we brew one 10 hl brew per week, and our current product range consists of Pale Ale, Coffee Stout, American Wheat Beer, Extra Special Bitter, IPA, Berliner Weisse and Red Ale, he says. Until recently, De Korte didnt really know the barley vari-eties in their malts, apart from the Maris Otter they use in the Extra Special Bitter. Most of our malts come from Weyermann in Bamberg, Germany. They offer a wide range of (organic) malts of high quality. While we know exactly what malt characteristics we need for which beer, the specific barley variety behind the malt is of less importance to us. The important characteristics for us are not in the barley variety, but in the malt made with that barley. We trust the maltsters to select the appropriate varieties to produce the malt we need, he adds.Ricardo Zanatta Machado, homebrewer in Braslia, Brazil concurs. Normally, in a homebrew level, we dont know the name of the variety of the barley malt. There are a few excep-tions, for example the Maris Otter and Propino varieties that are well known for their quality. Almost all my beer recipes are made with Maris Otter. I love this base malt. Regarding base malts, a good variety for brewing should have a good diastatic power, a low protein content, a good extract yield and a good flavour profile.Just this week (1 October 2019), we have started brewing with organic malts from a new maltster in the region, Maltin Pott in Allonzier-la-Caille, says De Korte. This fits with our efforts to decrease our environmental footprint. Ideally, over time, weRicardo Zanatta Machado, homebrewer in Braslia showing one of hiswill take all our malts from local producers. For now, they onlyprizewinning beers. (Photo: R. Zanatta Machado)EUROPEAN-SEED.COMIEUROPEAN SEED I 11'