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Malting Industry

Malting Barley.
Saskatchewan Agriculture, Food and Rural Revitalization

Malt is the main ingredient for brewing beer. The malting process requires plump and clean Barley with high germinative energy and adequate levels of protein. The cleaned barley is first steeped under controlled conditions, and kernels are activated for growth. The grain is then transferred to the germination compartments, where attemperated air is supplied continuously with frequent turning of the germinating barley. The barley’s enzyme package is developed during this period, and the cell wall materials and protein in the endosperm are degraded to required degrees. As a result, the starch granules are also exposed for further enzymatic attack that will occur later in the brewhouse. At the end of germination, the barley is kilned with large airflow at elevated temperatures to arrest the growth and generate the required malty flavour and colour. Rootlets are cleaned off before malt is transferred to storage silos for aging. The whole process of malting takes about eight days to complete, and the maturation in silos can take up to three weeks. Various specialty malt with particular colour or flavour intensities can be produced by selecting barley types and by varying the process conditions employed.

Malting barley in its finished state.
Saskatchewan Agriculture, Food and Rural Revitalization

The high-quality malting barley from Saskatchewan produces malt with a strong competitive edge in the world market. The average annual revenue of sales for malt from the province is over $70 million; this success is supported significantly by the barley breeding program at the Crop Development Centre at the University of Saskatchewan. There, a number of malting varieties such as Harrington, Manley, Kendall, and Copeland were developed for both superior enzymatic potential and high starch content. These characteristics made it ideal for brewers to produce dry beers and low-carbohydrate beers. Although a large portion of the selected malting barley from Saskatchewan goes to export directly as barley, the cream of the crop (less than 10% of the average four million tonnes of barley produced annually) is retained in the province for malting at Prairie Malt Limited; Saskatchewan’s only malting plant, it boasts an annual production of 230,000 tonnes of malt, requiring up to 300,000 tonnes of barley as raw material. Future market demand is expected to emphasize the importance of barley supply chain management, traceability, and more formalized Farming practices, as high-quality barley becomes one of the critical factors in the continued success of the malting industry in Saskatchewan.

Xiang S. Yin

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