Well even though I meant to scale back my gardening this year I just couldn’t let a year go by without growing some barley. I had given up one of my two garden plots and I was trying to talk myself into just growing boring old vegetables when my friend Andrew from Locality Brewing suggested growing some test plots on a section of their land. Andrew and his wife Melanie are in the process of creating a farmhouse brewery and cidery. For more info on what they’re doing check out their website. I had quite a few varieties that I’ve collected over the years so we thought it would be interesting to see what would work on their farm. We planted small beds with Alba (6 row), Copeland, Conlon, Chevallier, CDC McGuire (Hulless), some Jet and some Bere barley. All together it was about 1,000 sq. feet.
Unfortunately, this year was a great year for weeds, we had lots of rain and cool weather this spring which also caused some lodging. I couldn’t tend to the weeds as much as I would have liked and they just seemed to erupt during a few weeks in June and quickly took over. The big surprise, however, was the Bere barley. It has grown and ripened so fast I’ve been able to harvest most of it already! It seemed to outpace the weeds. I’m hoping to have enough to make a batch of beer with some more for planting next year. I’ll be harvesting the rest of it this week. As for the other varieties, we’ll have to wait and see, so far the Chevallier looks pretty good.
Bere barley was traditionally grown in areas with a short growing season and is able to grow in sandy soil. It’s still grown on the Orkney Islands in Scotland. Here’s a little blurb from Beer and Brewing about Bere or Bygg. https://beerandbrewing.com/dictionary/izxSEht6Z2/ The drawbacks to Bere are it’s low yield compared to regular barley and it’s inconsistent kernal size. Not a big deal if your malting it yourself, I’m just interested in the flavour, will it be noticeably different? Will it be worth growing again? Stay tuned to find out!