Malting Barley Characteristics

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The Supply Chain Subcommittee of the Brewers Association Technical Committee has identified barley malt needs specific to all-malt brewers which differ from the current North American barley malt supply. This document identifies gaps and bridges in the current barley malt market and enumerates ideal barley malt attributes from the perspective of all-malt brewers.

The brewing industry is evolving rapidly: as of January 2018, U.S. craft brewers consumed nearly 40% of the total malt consumed by U.S. brewers, and that proportion continues to grow. The North American barley malt supply chain must likewise evolve rapidly to meet the very different needs of all-malt beer brewers.

To produce all-malt beer brands, craft brewers seek barley malts with:

  • Distinctive flavors and aromas
  • Lower free amino nitrogen (“FAN”)
  • Lower Total Protein
  • Lower Diastatic Power (“DP”)
  • Lower Kolbach Index (ratio of Soluble Protein to Total Protein, or “S/T”)

In April 2014, the American Malting Barley Association, Inc. (AMBA) added a category for Barley Breeding Guidelines for All Malt Two-Row, which aligns closely with the characteristics identified by BA Supply Chain Subcommittee. Taken together, the BA and AMBA guidelines and criteria provide clear, achievable direction for the entire barley malting industry with respect to the production of all-malt beer brands.

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