Maris Otter – A Norfolk Heirloom Malt Variety

Brewing using the finest ingredients can create something special. Maris otter is a special base malt. Get Er Brewed work with Crisp Malt distributing their Maris Otter to breweries throughout Ireland and Home brewers across Europe.

Norfolk is one of the best locations in the world for growing malting barley, its perfectly located close to the sea which the Maris Otter crop benefits from a maritime climate that regulates the summer temperatures and provides moist air.

Tom Bambridge who farms 400 acres in North Norfolk explains; “This ensures a long, slow maturation of the barley with no intense heat”

“The other factor that makes for supurb 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”

Crisp Malt offer Maris Otter produced in both the traditional floor malting and Modern malting plants.

This consistently reliable base malt is prized all over the world for the incredibly rich and moreish ales that it helps create.

Maris Otter Malt
The Finest Crisp Malt

Furthermore, Crisp also malt a low colour extra pale version perfect for blondes and pale ales.

Available to homebrewers online:

The 2018 Malt Harvest sees malt prices increase to levels not seen since 2012

The 2018 Malt Harvest

Malt Harvest 2018

Do you monitor Wheat Futures?

We don’t normally but if you don’t recognise the term …then I’ll explain it’s the European benchmark for setting prices on wheat or more importantly malting barley for brewers.

UK Maltsters are likely to buy around 1.9 million tonnes of barley!!  to supply distillers who look for nitrogen contents below 1.6/1.65% and brewers below 1.8/1.85%.

 There is two categories;

1. Winter Varieties:

Flagon, Talisman, Venture, Craft

 2.Spring Varieties:

Concerto, KWS Irena, Laureate, RGT Planet, Propino, Chanson

 If you started a brewery in recent years you won’t have experienced much change in malting barley pricing or maybe you’ve been in the brewing industry for many years and you have experienced malt prices vary greatly, on occasion it falls in your favour and on other occasions it doesn’t, well 2019 malt prices aren’t going to be in anyone’s favour.

Geterbrewed distribute malt for Crisp Malt throughout Ireland and have in recent years increased the volume of malt they sell significantly, despite volumes increasing significantly the incoming malt harvest is going to see malt prices rise to levels not experienced before by many brewers

With no break in the long hot and dry weather that has dominated the weather pattern over NW Europe since early May, this kick started an early start to harvest of winter barley

Harvesting of winter barley started in the last few days of June. Despite the balmy weather conditions, most reports of both yield and quality are favourable despite what was expected. Winter malting barley grain nitrogens are in general low, with most samples through the Crisp laboratories being 1.65% or less. Grain size is variable and in general smaller than the 5 year average, with a wide range (65-95%) in barley over the 2.5mm sieve. Maris Otter performed relatively well, particularly on chalk soils, all Flagon samples seen so far are useable, Venture suffering another year of poor screenings and Craft producing the best samples in terms of grain size.

Whilst the weather has limited the potential of the winter sown crops, it is having a devastating effect on the potential of spring sown crops and in particular malting barley in NW Europe. Yield reductions of over 50% are talked about for many Scandinavian and north German crops, whilst further east and in UK there will be a significant reduction in output. Further compounding the yield issue will be the grain quality, with high or very high grain nitrogen levels likely in all of the drought-affected areas. The consequence of this will be a further sharp movement upwards in malting barley prices as traders in particular scramble to cover their short positions and first-hand sellers enter the market attempting to buy back some of their sales.

The Malt Harvest

With a lack of rain and soaring temperatures in northern Europe, the consequence is early harvests, low yields, quality issues (particularly in the malting barley crop) and price levels last seen in 2012. The hot and dry conditions have also had an impact on grain production in Russia and Ukraine.

Crop Prospects UK

Harvesting of winter malting barley in England was finished by mid-July with the majority of it off farm and into maltsters and merchants stores already. Whilst yields are at best only up to the 5 year average or slightly lower, quality is very good. Grain nitrogens are slightly lower than last year whilst grain size is also slightly smaller, in part reflecting the moisture levels 2% below average of the harvested barley. 

With the un-broken dry weather, harvesting of spring barley in England started straight after the winter crop, coming at the same time as winter wheat and oil seed rape on many farms. Due to the wide planting window this spring and the difficult growing conditions, it is no surprise that yields and quality vary enormously not just from area to area but from one farm to the next.

So far the best quality samples came coming from areas where the underlying chalk which was saturated during the winter and early spring, allowed spring crops to send roots down to access water and continue growing during the hot dry period from the beginning of May.

Grain nitrogens are in general lower than was feared but still significantly higher than in past seasons, however most of the crop produced in southern and eastern England should find a malting home as maltsters raise their nitrogen intake limits. Further north in England, reports are of a more ‘difficult’ crop.

Spring barley harvesting in Scotland showed that grain nitrogens are higher than the industry has been accustomed to in recent years and that yields are lower than the 5 year average, again due to lack of rainfall. Max level of Grain nitrogen will have been increased in certain areas especially Scotland and Distilling levels will most definitely be increased.

For EU Harvest reports, the summary isn’t good! Throughout Scandinavia, Poland, Czech and Slovakia the story is the same: low to very low yields and high protein. It is thought likely that for the EU to be barely self-sufficient, barley with up to 13% protein (2.08% TN) will have to be accepted by the malting and brewing industry. Only France and southern Germany have reasonable to good crops.

EU wheat markets have soared in the past month as the forecast size of the EU and Russian crops continue to decline. Feed barley supplies, already tight at a world level, have been further reduced by the drought and now the first downgrading of EU corn prospects is happening. These rising feed grain markets have been mainly responsible for the dramatic rise in malting barley prices, however it is now the overall supply / demand question that his adding additional strength to the malting barley market. Malting barley prices for ‘standard’ quality have now risen significantly.

Competition for the small quantities of low protein barley that is available from maltsters supplying the distilling, craft beer and other specialist markets is intense and will only add further upwards price pressure for specific varieties, origins and qualities.

So what does it mean for Crisp Malt Customers, unfortunately prices will increase but the quality will remain high spec, the management team at Crisp have taken the decision to put a clear focus on the quality of the malt and to continue to produce high spec malt so they have had to give the farmers a much increased price and that has to be passed on. Geterbrewed have managed to increase volumes greatly which has slightly mitigated that increase but you can trust the quality!!

Brewing Malt supply for the craft beer sector

Geterbrewed visited Crisp Maltings recently to get a tour of the new speciality maltings and automated bagging line

Crisp Malt is investing hugely in the Craft Beer industry, with the spend on recent upgrades being in the region of 6.7 million

Crisp Malt is independently owned and run by a passionate team of genuinely driven individuals. A range of expertise makes up the team, we work closely with our brewers to offer full technical support and a first class service and are privileged to be the exclusive Crisp Malt Irish Distributor

There is alot of choice for the pro brewer and homebrewer now in terms of malt supply but you need to use a malt that you can trust.

Crisp Malt is consistently impressive, they understand the quality product that the Craft industry needs.

The catalogue of Crisp Malt products is one of the largest in the industry. It varies from a range of heritage malts, floor malted malts, a range of base & speciality malts plus flaked & torrified products

Crisp Speciality Malt

The new speciality malting plant is a game changer, it’s highlights include;

1. Highly homogenous final product for improved brewhouse performance

2. Improved roasted flavours as grains are toasted in a confined atmosphere

3. Able to process a wide range of raw materials

4. Massive potential for novel product development

5. Fine control of product temperature to allow exact repeatability of recipes

6. No gases of combustion in contact with product

7. Low emissions & energy consumption

8. Highly efficient heat transfer

The new speciality maltings is an impressive sight, it’s operated by off balance electric motors to generate the vibrations for the transport of the grain.

This new technology transports and mixes by vibration and is heated by direct contact with a hot surface. All treatment is carried out in a confined space with 3 independent heating zones processing an impressive 1500kg per hour

The malt we tasted fresh out of the maltings was quite simply beautiful and absolutely packed with flavour

Exciting times ahead for Crisp Malt.

Malt Harvest 2017

Lower Yield on total crop and higher nitrogen levels, do not dis pair as Crisp have taken the lead and ensured premium quality is available for Craft customers

Not the best news for next years Malt prices but the solution to the quality means the best option is available for Craft Brewers in Ireland with Crisp Malt

So we like to keep our customers informed about the products we supply, Geterbrewed put alot of effort into working with the best suppliers and that involves getting to know the supply chain. So we trace our malt right from the Red Tractor Scheme through to the every stage data collecting from entering the maltings which then translates to Batch analysis of each individual sack of malt. Every Sack now has a QR Code which has full traceability and scientific analysis, this date is essential for professional brewers wanting to achieve an industry accredited scheme like SALSA or BRC.

Genuine traceability is very important, I say genuine as we have local suppliers who are saying they have traceability from the field but in fact they don’t, some even ship Irish malt to the UK to be malted with other varieties and claim that it is Irish malt, that is misleading at best, it then brings up the question of what exactly you are receiving? If the price is too good to be true then I’d want to see genuine traceability, technical brewing data shows these options, well for what they are….We let the malt do the talking and trials in Ireland to date have shown higher effciencies, better aroma and flavour.

UK Malt harvest was average at best. The UK mainland usually projects a surplus of 800,000 tonnes malting grade spring of barley. That entire surplus crop (which usually goes for export) has been wiped out due to 2 factors; too high nitrogen and pre-germination of the crop. These facets were largely weather driven where we experienced a very dry spring overall (well below the 30 year average) and a wet harvest. The dry spring had the rest of lower yields so the nitrogen was diluted over a smaller tonnage and the wet harvest meant the grains were physically sprouting before they could be harvested.

The supply side pressure has resulted in a £25 premium on farm which translates into a £35 premium in malt. Maltsters and farmers work together to ensure everyone gets a fair price in the market.

In Ireland the market is controlled by Boortmalt. 70% of the malting barley purchased goes to Guinness so Boort are able to suppress the price through an effective monopoly. (Hence the protests this week outside Guinness….) So farmers are not getting a great deal in Ireland.

Crisp Malt is who we officially represent in Ireland and they have worked with the same farms for decades, some even, have supplied the company for generations.

Norfolk is an especially good area for growing barley so we work with Norfolk farmers to grow the best barely.

This years spring barley (propino, concerto, odyssey) in the UK are all up in nitrogen.

Therefore Crisp have made the decision to supply winter barley (flagon) to craft bag customers which is lower in nitrogen than the springs and so this will be much easier to process. Think; increases finings, increased lauter times, shelf stability issues, haze issues with spring barley.

So, if you’re Malt buying this year watch for;

– Nitrogen levels

– Extract

– Crush

Crisp have selected the right barley grade to make it work in small breweries (600 craft customers in the UK). Crisp and Geterbrewed work together to ensure crush consistency for optimised run off and efficiency. If your brewery needs technical support we have qualified brewers to assist with this, we aren’t just interested in the sale we provide the support you need and most importantly genuine traceability. We will be publishing some more reports in relation to this in the coming weeks