The Craft Beer Scene in Northern Ireland – Support your local brewery!!


In a word, the craft beer movement seeing huge growth in other parts of the world is being suppressed in the North of Ireland by the Macro beer brands, the craft beer market is being prohibited from growing because of anti competitive tactics which leads to lack of support from the on trade market.

Combine the anti competitive tactics with the current out of date licensing laws our craft breweries really need support from the public to grow and survive and our politicians need to start lobbying for change of the licensing laws to help the small craft producers sell direct.

The main problem is anti competitive practices from the big drinks distribution guys, our own brewery was hit with such tactics recently. We brewed a beer specifically for a large hotel and they stopped buying from us so we sought clarification on what was happening, they advised us that they had been given 350k over a ten year period not to allow other breweries in that they didn’t represent. This is the first time we experienced this with a bottle contract, we had never seen that type of activity before, usually you can expect it to be just in relation to draft beer lines.

In simple terms Macro beer brands can buy the rights (not lawfully btw) to have just their beer pouring in bars, restaurants and hotels, some craft brewers simply wouldn’t have the ability to compete with such deals so their growth is suppressed.

Another major problem is licensing laws, now NI is isolated with out of date legislation, the South of Ireland recently changed their laws with a successful Craft Drinks Bill and the UK breweries can sell direct, they can open tap rooms they can generate a revenue from direct drinks sales but NI can’t without approaching a bar to get the use of their occasion licence and making an application to the court.

The lack of a sitting assembly at Stormont means any work that had previously been achieved with craft producers and MLA’s working on a change in law will have to start again IF they ever get back to actually legislating. What is shocking is that political parties in NI don’t currently even acknowledge correspondence in relation to this.

Another issue is that NI craft brewers need volume sales to survive, the margins in Craft Beer are small and with the suppressed local craft beer market the consumption rate is low so they need to look at supermarkets or exports, now we have the impeding circus show that is Brexit looming without any guidance to how the local craft brewing business community is being affected plus the catch with supermarket sales means most independent off sales will abandon them as they say they won’t stock breweries that are in supermarkets yet they still stock macro beer that is in the supermarket, that itself doesn’t seem fair really, again a different rule for macro beer.

Export is what is helping NI breweries grow , the consumption rate of craft beer in Northern Ireland isn’t large enough to support the amount of brewers. There is few breweries in NI that work fulltime brewing without some form of supplementary income for eg our main business is selling ingredients to brewers but we do co own a local brewery. Those that are working full time are really making the effort to push their brand as its the most difficult place to open and operate a brewery. We have some incredibly talented brewers in Ireland and Irish craft beer is respected on the world stage. Export markets are competitive , the margins are low but if you can achieve some decent volume then it can create revenue to allow the brewery to grow that growth leads to larger scale which in turn brings efficiencies and savings.

Direct sales from the brewery is what is really needed, taprooms across England for eg are selling their beer on draft direct for say £4 per pint, 95% of what they are brewing is being sold onsite, this is allowing them a consistent and sustainable revenue stream. I have visited some of these tap rooms and they have become the hub of the community in some small country villages.

So why don’t more NI brewers open tap rooms?

Some do and make use of occasion licences in their breweries and I love what they are doing here…. Checkout Boundary, Lacada and now Knockout doing this. Location is key too, if your brewery is based in the countryside for eg that might not be practical. So if we look at premises in major towns and cities they have prohibitive rent and rates and if you want to buy a licensed premises they are crazy expensive. We looked recently at a licence that became available in Randalstown and the asking price was 200k, with the current licensing laws no new licences can be issued so if you own a licence its worth money.

Some of our NI brewers are making incredible craft beer yet local support isn’t on their side. I recently went to a well known Belfast Bar with several other brewers, we were offered samples and asked if we would like to try something on their board (this part i thought was a good thing btw) but….. When we looked at the board I said I would like to try something local. This then kicked off a talk from the bartender about how he couldn’t get any kegs from local breweries. This really got my attention so i started asking some probing questions turns out he was talking out his arse. I started asking basic simple questions like which local breweries did you approach? I was shocked and equally pissed off at the response, the bartender ran down several respected local breweries one by one. Largely inaccurate info I may add, yes our brewery was mentioned and apparently I don’t need beer sales as my income comes from meat sales from our beer fed beef project – really wtf!! our business partner in the brewery Nigel was there with us and runs the farmshop with his brother and he will confirm that isn’t a main revenue stream, it takes it all to get a little return. Good brewers who I rate were slagged off one by one, I challenged this with some effort and said we were all brewers and what your saying is wrong and if thats the message you are portraying to customers then you are damaging the local beer scene. Guess what we chipped away at all the bullshit and it boiled down to distribution companies, who they can and can’t buy from, frustrating to be honest………

This is written to help create awareness of what challenges local brewers have here, yes we co-own a brewery ourselves but our main business is supplying brewing ingredients, we want all local breweries to be supported, we are passionate about this industry and as a small family business we have built relationships with the brewers we supply we know how hard they work, we know they can make awesome beer we just want you to see how much they need a little help. If we could get the licence laws changed and more taprooms opened these are the places i’d like to spend my sparetime, please challenge your local bars and off sales to make an effort to support your local brewery, or as many local breweries as possible, this will greatly help the craft beer movement.

Does your local MLA know we need these laws changed, the more constituents asking the more chance for change, just saying, we genuinely appreciate your help with supporting local brewers.





Geterbrewed secure new distribution deal for hops in Ireland

Geterbrewed Barth Haas Irish Distributor

Geterbrewed have formed a partnership with Simply Hops / Barth Haas Group – The World’s largest supplier of hop products and services!! We are proud to now be representing them exclusively in Ireland. This new partnership has been a long time in the making.

Geterbrewed have wholesaled hops to Craft brewers alongside suppling the homebrew community since 2013. During this time of working direct with hop farmers and buying from multiple hop merchants we have built experience of not only how to correctly handle hops but the importance of cold chain storage and being able to identify a quality hop harvest.

Geterbrewed have recognised who leads the way hence why we have actively sought and worked towards an exclusive agency for Ireland with Simply Hops.

Geterbrewed act as a one stop craft brewer ingredient store, exclusively distributing for Crisp Malt, Lallemand Yeast, AB Vickers, so to add Barth Haas to the portfolio is a huge achievement for us. We have carefully chosen our distribution partners and we are collectively working towards a long term relationship to bring the finest ingredients to Irish brewers backed up with full technical support.

Part of the agency agreement was a process of auditing our set up and procedures, visiting our warehousing, cold storage facility and monitoring the storage conditions and temperatures. Simply hops wanted to have confidence in our premises and equipment but also in how we deal with our customers, so they have meet some of our key customers also, they share our vision of building relationships, providing the highest quality hops and full technical support. They saw that first hand and we want to exceed expectations and consistently deliver the finest brewing ingredients

Geterbrewed provide technical support to all our brewers across all ingredients and Simply Hops will be no exception, they have the ability to provide technical support and their sales team are made up of respected brewers, they have access to a huge amount of the worldwide hop farms , including the ownership of HPA (Hop Products Australia) so those amazing hops like Galaxy, Ella, Vic Secret, Topaz, Enigma will all be readily available to our key customers.

Simply Hops / Barth Haas Group are genuine farm sourced hops, correctly processed and cold chain shipped and stored. We are super excited about having access to their portfolio of hops products.

Why Choose Barth Haas Group & Simply Hops?

Hops Distributor Ireland

  • Quality!!!
  • Barth Haas support growers in producing the best hops
  • Barth Haas have the highest standards
  • Established results
  • International quality control guarantees
  • Research & Innovation to continue to produce industry leading hop varieties

Simply Hops are at the heart of craft brewing, they are Hopsessed…



Rascals Brewing Company attending Craft Beer Rising with Geterbrewed

We have teamed up with Crisp Malt to bring a flavour of the Irish Craft Beer Scene to London for the 2019 Craft Beer Rising, honestly get tickets this is an awesome festival

So we have 6 key customers attending and we will be pouring their beers all weekend including some special collaborations between the Irish brewers

Rascals Brewing Company

Related image

Self confessed off centre brewers, always adding the Rascals twist. A kick ass core range, evolving specials, barrel aged beers, its been an adventure sampling their beers

Founded in 2014 by Emma Devlin & Cathal Donoghue, brewing an exciting range of modern Irish Craft Beer.

The new Rascals HQ is a must see, based in Inchicore, Dublin City, the new brewhouse now has an In House Tap Room and Pizzeria.

Emma & Cathal have been very driven and the new investment see them become a major player in the Irish Craft Beer Scene. Again with a lot of our brewery customers, they have an award winning home brewing background.

Great work ethic and a talented team sees their vision of a true city brewery unfold.

These guys have a bright future, join us at CBR and sample some of their awesome beers with us.

O’Brother Brewery Attending Craft Beer Rising with Geterbrewed

We have teamed up with Crisp Malt to bring a flavour of the Irish Craft Beer Scene to London for the 2019 Craft Beer Rising, honestly get tickets this is an awesome festival

So we have 6 key customers attending and we will be pouring their beers all weekend including some special collaborations between the Irish brewers

O’Brother Brewery


3 Brothers, 1 Brewery, 0 Shortcuts. I still have the t-shirt the guys gave me at The Killarney Beer Festival with that on it.

The Wicklow based brothers brew fresh, exciting beers using the best quality ingredients. We really appreciate their faith in us to supply such ingredients.

Brothers that rarely agreed on anything set aside their differences in 2014 to launch their own brewery adventure.

Brian, Padhraig & Barry O’Neill with backgrounds in Accounting, Surveying & Landscaping have excelled from a passion for great beer at a home brewing level to now producing top quality commerical Irish Craft Beer.

Another Irish brewery collecting many awards along the way.

Recent rebranding “Off the Wall Series” and continued dedication from the brothers has seen impressive DIPAs & DDH Pales catch attention and positive reviews.

Join us at CBR to sample some beers from the O’Brother Crew.

Pick up your tickets here:

Hilden Brewery Attending Craft Beer Rising with Geterbrewed

We have teamed up with Crisp Malt to bring a flavour of the Irish Craft Beer Scene to London for the 2019 Craft Beer Rising, honestly get tickets this is an awesome festival

So we have 6 key customers attending and we will be pouring their beers all weekend including some special collaborations between the Irish brewers

Hilden brewery

hilden logo

Irelands oldest independent Brewery and a good friend of Geterbrewed Owen Scullion now runs the brewery having taken over from his father Seamus. They are a family run business with two awesome restaurants, one at the brewery and the other in Botanic Avenue in Belfast, called Mollys Yard.

Their annual festival is a date to get in your diary now too

Hilden Beer Festival 2019

The Hilden Brewery and Taproom are in a converted stables that was historically beside an old Linen Factory. Owen is a qualified brewer brewing some exceptionally well balanced craft beers.

Recent rebranding and large investment in the brewhouse and packaging line now sees the brewery in a position to start experimenting and creating new special releases. We had the privilege of brewing on their original kit recently, we brewed a Brut IPA which is currently ageing in virgin oak barrels.

hilden brewery collaboration with hillstown

Hilden are one of a few local breweries still producing and serving cask ales, modernising their offering currently is exciting to see unfold.

Hilden brewed craft beer before it was even trend if anything they have helped pioneer the craft beer movement in Ireland. A key pillar in the local craft beer scene and the family run restaurants are definitiely a must visit when in Lisburn or Belfast. Lesley has joined the brewery team and is keen to drive forward new beer styles so definitely one to watch

Join us at Craft Beer Rising and sample some of their beers:

Boyne Brewery attending Craft Beer Rising with Geterbrewed

We have teamed up with Crisp Malt to bring a flavour of the Irish Craft Beer Scene to London for the 2019 Craft Beer Rising, honestly get tickets this is an awesome festival

So we have 6 key customers attending and we will be pouring their beers all weekend including some special collaborations between the Irish brewers

Boyne Brewhouse Drogheda

Boyne Brewhouse

The Cooney family brewing business is located in Drogheda with an impressive new distillery about to open and a beautiful Kasper Schulz Brewhouse

Boyne’s head brewer Richard Hamilton has a passion for Irish Craft Beer, after his studies in philosophy he decided to follow a career in Craft brewing. Richard creates impressive home brew pilot batches regularly for their range of seasonal specials. He is joined by Bill a Londoner now settled in Dublin with solid experience from Redemption brewery and Conor a fellow NI brewer recently joining the team. The brewing team have been collecting some impressive awards.

The Cooney family have a long tradition in the Irish drinks industry. Pat Cooney built the Gleeson group up to be  major player in the Irish manufacturing and wholesale drinks business over the last 40 years, establishing the new visitor centre, brewery and distillery in his hometown with his wife and 4 children who are all active members of the team.

winter series from boyne brewhouse

They will be pouring the winter series with some APA’s and IPA’s at Craft Beer Rising, Paddy Cooney is joining us at Craft Beer Rising, his energetic approach to craft beer is infectious so pop over to our stand and let the liquid do the talking, buy your tickets here:

Rye River Brewery attending Craft Beer Rising with Geterbrewed

We have teamed up with Crisp Malt to bring a flavour of the Irish Craft Beer Scene to London for the 2019 Craft Beer Rising, honestly get tickets this is an awesome festival…

So we have 6 key customers attending and we will be pouring their beers all weekend including some special collaborations between the Irish brewers

Rye River Brewery

Rye River have been producing some amazing beers in the Irish Beer Scene for coming up on five years, we have recently been getting to know the team on a more personal level over the last year.

The Rye River team work hard, to give you an idea they produce a staggering volume of craft beer every year. 2018 seen them craft well see the pic from their twitter post below….

Decorating their beers with a huge array of awards and steering the business upwards is a real credit to all involved.

Geterbrewed proudly work with Rye River on their ingredients and we are building a longterm relationship with them, we both recognise Crisp Malt as the finest malt and we recently had the pleasure of collaborating with them focusing on the Chevallier Heritage Malt  barrel aged in virgin oak which will see two beers launched at Craft Beer Rising…

  1. Delusional Stout
  2. Caber Toss Wee Heavy

Rye River brew seasonal specials throughout the year, they have the McGargles brand and they contract brew some of the most impressive supermarket beers you will ever taste, seek out The Crafty Range (LIDL) Solas (TESCO) & Grafters (DUNNES)

Bill Laukitis their head brewer has genuinely worked his way up from entry level to leading the team. A talented and creative brewer who has technical ability working in harmony with creative flare.

Tom Cronin their MD has taken the Rye River beers into 26 countries an enviable acheivement . Focused and driven he continues to promote Irish Craft Beer on a global scale.

Join us at Craft Beer Rising and we will let the liquid do the talking, get tickets here: 

Hillstown Brewery attending Craft Beer Rising with Geterbrewed

We have teamed up with Crisp Malt to bring a flavour of the Irish Craft Beer Scene to London for the 2019 Craft Beer Rising, honestly get tickets this is an awesome festival

So we have 6 key customers attending and we will be pouring their beers all weekend including some special collaborations between the Irish brewers

Hillstown Brewery Logo

Our sister brewery Hillstown will be there. The Northern Ireland based brewery was created in partnership with our friend Nigel Logan from Hillstown Farmshop and the brewhouse is now proudly located on the farm. Launched in 2014 initially as a beer fed beef project for the on site butchery it now produces a core range of 6 beers, complimented with a range of seasonal specials.

The latest releases include:

Hillstown Brewery Special Releases

1. The Blueberry Badger Parade 3.5%
Hillstowns first sour beer, Geterbrewed managed to get us some commercial samples of a new helveticus strain of bacteria, we blended this with sour pitch planetarium strain and soured the wort in the brewhouse kettle for 24 hours prior to boiling off the wort and adding a little citra hops. Big thanks to Rob Percival from Lallemand for the technical help on this project

We fermented the beer at a high temperature with Belle Saison yeast and then used some juniper botanicals from Frankie & Eileens distillery to add to secondary. We have allowed this beer to condition for several weeks with the botanicals prior to bottling. The amount of Blueberries in this beer makes up 55% of the content, its complex yet super crushable as its only 3.5%

2. The Full Boar Crew 6.2%
The new trend for IPA’s, a Brut IPA much like its champagne name is a super dry beer, we have fermented out all the residual sugars with the addition of glucoamylase 400 paired with a beautiful Lallemand New England yeast which has imparted some nice stone fruit flavour and we have late hopped the beer with lots of the latest harvest of Simply Hops Aussie varieties. The hop flavour profile is super fresh and packed with delicious hop flavour

Jonathan is the creative recipe designer usually starting the pilot batches on his homebrew kit and then passing the recipe onto the brewers to turn it into the commercial format.

New brewer Kevin McLaughlin is producing some of the best beers to date, again a home brewer turned pro he is dedicated and passionate about the Irish Craft Beer Scene, he is even known to do a little blogging on beer in his spare time

Hillstown Brewery recently launched with new distribution partners in the UK, the juvenile NI beer scene has enjoyed their beers since 2014 but as with many Irish brewers the local consumption rate is low so focus is mainly on export opportunities.

Hillstown collaborated with Rye River Brewery & Hilden Brewery for special beers to be released at Craft Beer Rising.

Join us and meet some of the key players in the Irish Craft Beer Scene at the festival in London, you can buy tickets here: 

Brewing malt the change in season and milling optimisation


Crisp Malt


As the freshly harvested barley makes its way through the Malthouse we want to make sure that you’re prepared for any changes that might be thrown up as you transition from crop 2017 to crop 2018. That’s why we’ve worked with our master maltsters and brewers to prepare this handy guide to the season changeover. This guide is also particularly useful when you change over base malt generally.


As you may well have noticed, this year has been an unusual one in terms of weather. While we all basked in the sunshine the extended period of drought and heat produced an unusual and extreme growing season for our precious barley.

Barley gets planted at two times in the UK; one crop in October/November of the preceding year (referred to as winter barley) and one in the March/April of the crop year (known as spring barley). This year, the winter barley got a good soak in the wet winter and spring and so got an excellent start to growing in the new year. This also meant that when the warm weather did start, the plants had a good water base to survive through the drought.

The spring barley didn’t have as much of a fighting chance. Because the rain was prolonged throughout Jan-March, the grounds were saturated and farmers struggled to get the spring barley planted due to poor ploughing conditions and flooded fields. The warm weather started soon after this and so the spring barley plants didn’t get a great start and struggled through the drought.

Fortunately for Crisp, the North Norfolk area around our Great Ryburgh Maltings is well suited to winter barley. Indeed, we’ve been working with local farmers to grow barley locally for almost 150 years. While this is a relatively small crop in the wider UK market, we’ve found it to be very reliable for making ale malt and once again it has returned a good crop with all the key characteristics for producing excellent beer; namely low nitrogen/ protein and good starch levels for extract. Winter barley requires less water and also helps to reduce erosion by stabilising the soil over the winter months.

This all being said, the hot weather has meant that there were simply less barley plants that came to maturity and the result is a drop in yield for both winter and spring crops. This has been mirrored in crops across Northern Europe, coupled with additional demand for feed leading to significant increases in the European grain markets. We have minimised these through having strong relationships with our all-important British farmers up and down the UK.

What’s changed?

Our lives as maltsters, brewers and distillers would be much simpler if the barley didn’t change from year to year. While we do our utmost to iron out inconsistencies from crop to crop, there are always going to be subtle changes in the biology of the plant which can affect the way the malt behaves in the mashtun. We’ve written up some of the changes that we see in the barley and how they might affect your brewhouse practices.


Corn size

The corn size can vary depending on the variety and weather. We are looking for plump grains that will take up water well in malting. At Crisp we remove the small corns (another that passes through a 2.25mm screen) and this ensures we get an even malting of the batch. If the corn size distribution has changed it means the milling might also change. On the bagging line we are constantly checking the grist fractions by performing a sieve analysis. If you mill your own malt then this is a simple test that you can also perform. Too much milling and you could end up with higher extract, over attenuated beers and a stuck mash. Too little milling and it will be lower extract and you will be leaving sugars behind in the grain. Take a look at our quick guide on how to optimise your grist.


Friability is a measure of how easily the malt will mill. The more friable the malt the less energy required to break it apart. We often see malts from the continent and some part of the UK with poor friability (in the 80s). We would ideally want friability to be in the 90s. This is an indication of good malting practice. A change in friability means your mill setting may need to be adjusted. As mentioned above, we recommend a simple grist analysis to check your milling is optimised.

Nitrogen/ Protein Level

The barley plant can put its energy into making starch or protein, more commonly referred to in the UK by its base element nitrogen. Generally, when the nitrogen goes up, the starch goes down and we lose extract. There is a very specific sweet spot for ale and lager malts for nitrogen content, namely 1.4-1.6% N2 for ale and  up to 1.75% for lager.

A good practice at the changeover in season is to optimise your kettle finings. This will ensure you’re taking enough protein out of the boil which will help with yeast health and also ensure bright, shelf stable beers. Contact your finings supplier such as Murphy & Sons for advice on performing the simple finings optimisation tests.


As mentioned above, the extract may vary due to the protein content of the malt. We work very hard to ensure a consistent extract from season to season and throughout the year. It’s always good to periodically read your certificate of analysis to check if the extract has changed. You should always work with the “AS IS” extract not the “DRY” extract for making gravity calculations. If you’re unsure of working out target gravity we can provide a handy calculator spreadsheet.

Diastatic Power (DP)

The diastatic power is a measure of the enzyme activity in the grain; the higher the DP the quicker the conversion rate from starch to sugar. A discussion of controlling in enzymes in the brewhouse is lengthy but if your DP has increased (by a certain % or amount?) then you may have to increase your mash temperature or decrease your mash time. It might be a good idea to carry out a starch test using iodine to check that you have full conversion of starch into sugar. As soon as this process is complete you can run off.



At Crisp we monitor the grist fractions on every single batch of crushed malt that passes through our mill. It is only by doing this, that we can optimise the balance between run-off and extract for our brewers and distillers. We do this by using a simple grist box as shown. If you mill your own malt then this is an essential test to perform every few weeks and especially when moving from one crop season to another, or from one base malt to another.

The method is simple:

  • take a representative sample of grist from your mill
  • place about 100g of grist in the box, replace the lid and shake for 2 minute from side to side
  • weight out the fractions in each layer of the box (we find a soft bristled paint brush helps get all the malt out the box)
  • Sum the weights to arrive at a total and calculate the % fractions in each layer of the box.

These are the fractions we work to at Crisp for crushed malt but if you operate a lauter tun then you may wish to go a touch finer

Sieve Crisp Base Crushed Malt Spec Crisp Distilling Spec Lauter Tun Spec
Coarse (above 1.98mm screen) 50% 20% 40%
Fine (below the 1.98mm screen) 40% 70% 30%
Flour (below the 0.212mm screen) 10% 10% 30%


Regular maintenance of your mill, including monitoring of the wear on the roll pack will ensure consistent mill performance.

If you’re in any doubt about your milling performance then please speak to our technical team who will be happy to assist.

The 2018 Malt Harvest sees malt prices increase to levels not seen since 2012

The 2018 Malt Harvest

Malt Harvest 2018

Do you monitor Wheat Futures?

We don’t normally but if you don’t recognise the term …then I’ll explain it’s the European benchmark for setting prices on wheat or more importantly malting barley for brewers.

UK Maltsters are likely to buy around 1.9 million tonnes of barley!!  to supply distillers who look for nitrogen contents below 1.6/1.65% and brewers below 1.8/1.85%.

 There is two categories;

1. Winter Varieties:

Flagon, Talisman, Venture, Craft

 2.Spring Varieties:

Concerto, KWS Irena, Laureate, RGT Planet, Propino, Chanson

 If you started a brewery in recent years you won’t have experienced much change in malting barley pricing or maybe you’ve been in the brewing industry for many years and you have experienced malt prices vary greatly, on occasion it falls in your favour and on other occasions it doesn’t, well 2019 malt prices aren’t going to be in anyone’s favour.

Geterbrewed distribute malt for Crisp Malt throughout Ireland and have in recent years increased the volume of malt they sell significantly, despite volumes increasing significantly the incoming malt harvest is going to see malt prices rise to levels not experienced before by many brewers

With no break in the long hot and dry weather that has dominated the weather pattern over NW Europe since early May, this kick started an early start to harvest of winter barley

Harvesting of winter barley started in the last few days of June. Despite the balmy weather conditions, most reports of both yield and quality are favourable despite what was expected. Winter malting barley grain nitrogens are in general low, with most samples through the Crisp laboratories being 1.65% or less. Grain size is variable and in general smaller than the 5 year average, with a wide range (65-95%) in barley over the 2.5mm sieve. Maris Otter performed relatively well, particularly on chalk soils, all Flagon samples seen so far are useable, Venture suffering another year of poor screenings and Craft producing the best samples in terms of grain size.

Whilst the weather has limited the potential of the winter sown crops, it is having a devastating effect on the potential of spring sown crops and in particular malting barley in NW Europe. Yield reductions of over 50% are talked about for many Scandinavian and north German crops, whilst further east and in UK there will be a significant reduction in output. Further compounding the yield issue will be the grain quality, with high or very high grain nitrogen levels likely in all of the drought-affected areas. The consequence of this will be a further sharp movement upwards in malting barley prices as traders in particular scramble to cover their short positions and first-hand sellers enter the market attempting to buy back some of their sales.

The Malt Harvest

With a lack of rain and soaring temperatures in northern Europe, the consequence is early harvests, low yields, quality issues (particularly in the malting barley crop) and price levels last seen in 2012. The hot and dry conditions have also had an impact on grain production in Russia and Ukraine.

Crop Prospects UK

Harvesting of winter malting barley in England was finished by mid-July with the majority of it off farm and into maltsters and merchants stores already. Whilst yields are at best only up to the 5 year average or slightly lower, quality is very good. Grain nitrogens are slightly lower than last year whilst grain size is also slightly smaller, in part reflecting the moisture levels 2% below average of the harvested barley. 

With the un-broken dry weather, harvesting of spring barley in England started straight after the winter crop, coming at the same time as winter wheat and oil seed rape on many farms. Due to the wide planting window this spring and the difficult growing conditions, it is no surprise that yields and quality vary enormously not just from area to area but from one farm to the next.

So far the best quality samples came coming from areas where the underlying chalk which was saturated during the winter and early spring, allowed spring crops to send roots down to access water and continue growing during the hot dry period from the beginning of May.

Grain nitrogens are in general lower than was feared but still significantly higher than in past seasons, however most of the crop produced in southern and eastern England should find a malting home as maltsters raise their nitrogen intake limits. Further north in England, reports are of a more ‘difficult’ crop.

Spring barley harvesting in Scotland showed that grain nitrogens are higher than the industry has been accustomed to in recent years and that yields are lower than the 5 year average, again due to lack of rainfall. Max level of Grain nitrogen will have been increased in certain areas especially Scotland and Distilling levels will most definitely be increased.

For EU Harvest reports, the summary isn’t good! Throughout Scandinavia, Poland, Czech and Slovakia the story is the same: low to very low yields and high protein. It is thought likely that for the EU to be barely self-sufficient, barley with up to 13% protein (2.08% TN) will have to be accepted by the malting and brewing industry. Only France and southern Germany have reasonable to good crops.

EU wheat markets have soared in the past month as the forecast size of the EU and Russian crops continue to decline. Feed barley supplies, already tight at a world level, have been further reduced by the drought and now the first downgrading of EU corn prospects is happening. These rising feed grain markets have been mainly responsible for the dramatic rise in malting barley prices, however it is now the overall supply / demand question that his adding additional strength to the malting barley market. Malting barley prices for ‘standard’ quality have now risen significantly.

Competition for the small quantities of low protein barley that is available from maltsters supplying the distilling, craft beer and other specialist markets is intense and will only add further upwards price pressure for specific varieties, origins and qualities.

So what does it mean for Crisp Malt Customers, unfortunately prices will increase but the quality will remain high spec, the management team at Crisp have taken the decision to put a clear focus on the quality of the malt and to continue to produce high spec malt so they have had to give the farmers a much increased price and that has to be passed on. Geterbrewed have managed to increase volumes greatly which has slightly mitigated that increase but you can trust the quality!!