All about barley

Barley is the main ingredient in beer, and in all malted beverages more generally, including whiskey. But barley cannot be used in its unprocessed form. A prior stage, called malting, is required to turn the barley into malt. It's the malt that gives craft beers their specific flavour and colour. So, no malt means no beer! And not all barley varieties are suitable for malting: for beer, we use malting barley…

The history of barley

Historians believe that beer may have been invented accidentally. Wild barley already existed 10,000 years ago. The grain was originally cultivated for making bread and gruel. Nowadays, barley is mostly used as the main ingredient in beer. The story goes that, one day in Mesopotamia, someone prepared a barley gruel and then forgot about it. This mixture started fermenting spontaneously in the open air, giving rise to the first beer! Capable of adapting to any climate, barley is now cultivated in both temperate and cold regions, on plains and at high altitudes.

Le saviez-vousDid you know?

Barley is traditionally cultivated on the high plateaus of the Himalayas.
It is consumed in the form of beer (Tchang) and toasted flour (Tsampa), which is a staple of the local diet.


How is barley sown and when is it harvested, in which season?

Sown during the winter or spring, barley is harvested in early summer. Its growth cycle is similar to that of wheat. It grows to 70 – 120 cm tall and its ears are made up of either two or six rows of spikelets.

Winter barley growth cycle:Winter barley growth cycle

Spring Barley growth cycle:Spring Barley growth cycle