Germany: Winter brewing barley becomes increasingly popular

In view of the accelerated climate change and an increasing occurrence of spring drought and extreme weather conditions, the brewing and malting industry in Europe turns increasingly to winter barley as opposed to the traditional spring barley as an alternative raw material for beer. The longer growing season and the use of winter moisture in the soil for the early development of plants has become an important factor in favor of winter barley in recent years.

The German Brewing Barley Association (Braugerstengemeinschaft) and the Association for the Promotion of Bavarian Quality Barley Cultivation (Verein zur Förderung des Bayerischen Braugerstenabaus) which are both based in Munich, Germany, have now recommended the two new barley varieties KWS Liga and KWS Somerset for the cultivation in the next season in fall 2020. A decision about the varieties Lyberac and Zophia, which were also in the evaluation, will be taken next year after another year under observation.

Prospect from breeding company Streng-Engelen is a new spring barley variety which was approved by the German Federal Office of Plant Varieties (Bundessortenamt) in 2018 and which was also included in the list of recommended barley varieties of the German Brewing Barley Association this year. According to a statement of the organization, Prospect has achieved excellent results both in the processing of brewing malt and in the production of beer.

With a yearly production of 1.5 to 2 million tons, Germany is one of the major producers of malting barley in Europe. The moderate climate, characterized by not too cold winters, with average daily temperatures around 0 °C (32 °F) or slightly above, and warm summers, with maximum temperatures around 22/24 °C (72/75 °F) in July and August is ideal for the cultivation of brewing barley. Traditionally spring barley, which is sown in early spring, is preferred over winter barley, which is sown in fall and which already starts sprouting in winter. This can cause problems especially in cold winters when frost without a snow cover damages the growing seed.

The climate change does here also work in favor of winter barley. This winter was the second warmest since weather records started in 1881 according to the German Meteorological Service (DWD). And it looks like this trend is going on.

Share this article: