Barley boon as breweries change tack

STAFF REPORTERThe West Australian

Moves by the South East Premium Wheat Growers' Association to encourage breweries in Asia to adopt new brewing technology have paid off.

Bintang Pilsner, a popular Indonesian beer, now features raw barley as an ingredient along with water, malts, sucrose and hops.

Breweries across the world commonly add additional fermentation sources to their beers to reduce the cost from an all-malted barley beer, rice is a common ingredient of choice in Asian beers.

Due to advances in enzyme technology, beer can now be brewed from raw unmalted barley as opposed to malt, which is used traditionally in brewing. The new technology is demanding interest from breweries worldwide who are now considering the use of raw barley direct from farms, in their beer.

Following the development of the new technology, SEPWA embarked on a Grains Research and Development Commission-funded enzyme brewing project.

SEPWA projects officer Nigel Metz said it began investigating the evolving demands of the Asian brewing market place in order to generate demand for Australian barley.

He said it was important brewers understood the logistics and farm gate realities of growing barley compared to malted barley, sold to them from the malt factories.

"We have been in constant contact with representatives from several Asian breweries to introduce them to the product of raw barley for evaluation in their own brewing process," he said.

SEPWA has facilitated various trial consignments of barley to breweries in Vietnam, Papua New Guinea, Cambodia and the Philippines in the last 12 months.

Mr Metz said this would lead to long-term barley inclusion in beer recipes across Asia. "We have had a win in the case of Bintang beer, as they are now using raw Australian barley," he said.

"This is great news for the long-term development of the market."

Mr Metz said Australian barley was an obvious fit in an emerging brewing market with its reliable quality and regional freight advantage for delivery.

"Research conducted by the University of Tasmania shows Hindmarsh is amongst the best performing varieties for enzyme barley brewing," he said.

"Hence there could be opportunities for a wider selection of barley varieties to be used in the brewing industry rather than the ones already established within the malting supply chain.

"This market is at a delicate stage of development, and it is critical that brewers are supplied quality barley in the initial stages of incorporation of barley into their beer recipes."

Mr Metz said when major labels began to incorporate raw barley, it would likely be felt at the farm gate and provide a firmer price for a wider range of barley, than just malt specifications.

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