Brewing innovation from barley harvesting to brewery


Brewing innovation from barley harvesting to brewery

Beer comes from the field. Although some brewers use other grains for their beers (perhaps you’ve heard of rye IPAs or wheat beers), malt barley is by far the most common grain used for brewing. 

Barley’s Role in beer making 
Before barley grain can be used to make beer, it must undergo a process known as malting, in which moisture stimulates the natural germination process inside the grain. This malt barley, called “malt,” is the form of barley that can be fermented into alcohol thanks to the enzymes that modify the grain’s proteins and starches into fermentable sugars.
Malted barley gives beer its color, malty sweet flavor, dextrins to give the beer body, protein to form a good head, and perhaps most important, the natural sugars needed for fermentation. Barley’s role in beer making is equivalent to grapes’ role in winemaking: fundamental.

What makes a quality malt barley harvest?
Because malt barley can be considered fundamental for a quality beer, the barley have to be of a high quality to give the beer the best flavor. Without quality malt barley, it becomes more difficult to meet the increasing demands of the global beer industry, so it’s clear how important this harvest has become in recent years.
Barley must meet specific criteria to be suitable for malting. EvoNIR analyzer manufactured by Dinamica Generale installed on combines are required to analyze in real time barley constituents like moisture, protein, starch, fibers etc. during harvesting. With Field track app all constituents are mapped and displayed in real time to plan ahead further treatments. Why is so important knowing the quality of barley during harvesting? Barley growers are paid a premium for providing malt barley with the following high-quality characteristics
  • Less than 13.5% moisture content
  • Protein content between 9.5% and 12.5% (different markets want different protein)
  • Free from disease (mold and bacteria), frost damage, and heat damage
  • Free of insects and foreign material
  • Less than 5% peeled or broken kernels
Producing barley with these characteristics requires a professional approach to the whole process and the right technology to monitor all production stages, from seeding to fertilization to harvesting to storage. That’s the reason Dinamica Generale is providing barley growers, contractors, and brewers with all technological tools meant for tracing quality along the entire value chain. Look at the product portfolio of Dinamica Generale to know more about precision agriculture technology applications

The importance of protein content for a good beer
Protein is the first constituent to form during kernel development. In other words, the higher the protein content, the less starch that will be available to fill the kernel. This starch is necessary for fermentable malt extract. Less protein means less extract.

So, how exactly does extract affect the beer? The beer’s body, flavor, and foam are all affected by the level of extract achieved. Low malt extract may result from:
  • Too much protein content 
  • Kernels damaged by environmental factors such as heat or frost
  • Kernels damaged by improper handling or rough shipping
  • Barley that sprouted prior to harvest, resulting in lower germination rates during the malting process

The amount of extract is also important from an economic standpoint. Logistically, it makes sense that lower malt extract will result in a brewer needing more malt to produce the same quantity of beer. The production of consistent, quality barley, brewing efficiency and extract levels are essential.
Aside from extract levels, malt barley protein content also contributes to the final color of the beer as well as the ability of the yeast to grow during the fermentation process. Too much protein may result in an additional phenomenon called “haze,” a clouding of packaged beer which is considered undesirable by some brewers. 

Using Dinamica Generale technology to keep standards high 
Making high yielding low protein malt barley is tricky business. Weather plays a key role, but working with the right technology will give growers the best chance of success. Thanks to the dedicated efforts of Dinamica Generale, growers and contractors are embracing NIR technology and precision farming practices to maximize their barley yields and maintain uniform quality that meets the specific requirements of this sector.  At the same time, breweries are starting to utilize technology to improve quality control by being able to actively monitor their supply chain including at the field level.

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