From Ground to Glass: Evaluation of unique barley varieties for western Washington craft malting, brewing and distilling
CSANR Project 165
Looking for biological tools to interrupt pest and disease cycles in vegetable-intensive systems, and additional opportunities for value-added feed, brewing and distilling grain, farmers in western Washington are interested in integrating cereal crops into farm operations. This study will utilize a breeder-extension-farmer-craft brewer/distiller collaboration to evaluate barley varieties for organic production and value-added processing. We hypothesize that unique flavors exist among the diverse germplasm in the WSU barley breeding program that will be of interest to craft maltsters, brewers and distillers. Nine barley breeding lines and/or varieties will be evaluated for valuable agronomic and end-use characteristics important to maltsters, brewers, distillers and farmers. This project specifically catalyzes WSU faculty engagement with BIOAg principles by 1) publishing agronomic data that supports biologically intensive crop rotations such as grain-vegetable integration, 2) evaluating barley production and end-use characteristics under explicitly organic management, and 3) utilizing a three-legged approach to sustainable agriculture by developing novel marketing opportunities, providing ecological crop rotation tools for managing pest populations, and spurring social engagement between farmers, processors, and consumers. Project impacts include the potential for immediate release of new WSU barley varieties for the first time specifically suited to the needs of craft brewers, micro-maltsters, and local distillers. Farmers will gain vital agronomic information about locally-adapted varieties when integrating barley into crop rotations. Additionally, this research will leverage funding for sensory evaluation events, demonstrating to decision-makers, processors, farmers, and consumers the potential of regional organic barley production for value-added markets.