News

WhistlePig Whiskey joins AMBA

The American Malting Barley Association (AMBA) would like to formally welcome WhistlePig Whiskey, a leading distiller in the ultra-premium and luxury Rye Whiskey category in North America, as their newest regular member. Recognized for their innovative style and farm-to-glass Rye whiskey,  WhistlePig prides themself on sourcing only the best ingredients, many of which come straight from their farm; including grains and wood for their finishing barrels. 

The next adventure for the WhistlePig team is expansion into the American Single Malt category, a distinction eligible only to whiskeys made from 100% malted barley, distilled entirely at one distillery within the U.S., matured in oak casks, and reaching specified alcohol proofs. AMBA seeks to support this emerging and growing market sector through focused development of malting barley lines suitable for U.S. distillers. 

“We are thrilled to join AMBA and have a seat at the table when it comes to decision making on direct research investment,” said Liz Rhoades, Head of Whiskey Development at WhistlePig Whiskey. “Our goal as a member is to ensure distillers have a voice in the direction of malting barley development and improvement, specifically defining the barley parameters necessary for single malt distillers.”

AMBA is excited to bring on new members, like WhistlePig Whiskey, which furthers our mission to encourage and support production of an adequate supply of high quality malting barley for our various end-user members. This is accomplished by building a network of engaged barley interests so that the best available research informs the development and production of the U.S. malting barley crop. Learn more about joining AMBA today: https://ambainc.org/membership-information/

pFriem Family Brewers supports malting barley research through AMBA membership

AMBA’s newest member is pFriem Family Brewers from Hood River, OR. Founded on their love of family, beer, and the Columbia River Gorge, pFriem has quickly become a well-recognized and award-winning brand throughout the region living their motto, “Proudly Crafted, Humbly Offered.” 

pFriem sees value in Associate membership because they understand the importance of investing in malting barley research. They look forward to engaging with other members across the barley supply chain.  

AMBA is excited to bring on new members, like pFriem, which furthers our mission to encourage and support production of an adequate supply of high quality malting barley for our various end-user members. This is accomplished by building a network of engaged barley interests so that the best available research informs the development and production of the U.S. malting barley crop. Learn more about joining AMBA today: https://ambainc.org/membership-information/

Admiral Maltings invests in barley through AMBA membership

The newest member of the American Malting Barley Association (AMBA) hails from Alameda, California and specializes in small-batch, floor malted grains tapping into the terroir of the region. Admiral Maltings, founded by a pair of brewers and a farmer, set out to partner with California growers to source quality grains to produce exceptional malts using their unique floor malting process. 

The trio – Ron Silberstein, Dave McLean, and Curtis Davenport – run their Bay-area malthouse out of a former World War II-era naval dry goods warehouse, which now houses the first floor malting operation in California since Prohibition. Other ventures include a pub, affectionately named The Rake, referencing the essential floor malting tool, and offers 20+ beers and spirits, all of which include Admiral malt.  

Admiral Malting chose to join AMBA to support barley research and variety development and also looks forward to engaging with industry colleagues. As a member of this community, they hope to gain a broader perspective from their barley, malt, and brewing colleagues to stay informed on emerging barley issues and have access to the latest barley research and varieties in the development pipeline. Their interest complements an emerging body of work supported through AMBA investment in the barley research program at UC-Davis. 

AMBA welcomes this unique floor malting operation, Admiral Maltings, to our membership base. They are our first non-brewing member to hail from California, and their participation and investment furthers our mission to encourage and support production of an adequate supply of high quality malting barley for our various end-user members. This is accomplished by building a network of engaged barley interests so that the best available research informs the development and production of the U.S. malting barley crop. Learn more about joining AMBA today: https://ambainc.org/membership-information/

Half Acre Beer Beer Company joins AMBA to support and stay connected to high quality malting barley

AMBA welcomes back Half Acre Beer Company based in Chicago, Illinois, as their newest associate member. Initially established in 2007, Half Acre has evolved into a Chicagoland mainstay that prides itself on quality ingredients and processes with flagship beers like their Daisy Cutter Pale Ale. 

Half Acres hopes their engagement in AMBA membership will help them stay informed on challenges and risks to their malting barley supply and ensure access to high quality malting barley into the future. Furthermore, they hope to learn more about barley breeding efforts and to continue to expand their knowledge on malting barley utilization. 

AMBA appreciates member investments from Half Acre, which furthers our mission to encourage and support production of an adequate supply of high quality malting barley for our various end-user members. This is accomplished by building a network of engaged barley interests so that the best available research informs the development and production of the U.S. malting barley crop. Learn more about joining AMBA today: https://ambainc.org/membership-information/

Barley production and stocks report released for 2022

The USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) released their annual 2022 Crop Production and their quarterly Grain Stocks reports on January 12, 2023 at noon EST.  Summaries of these reports are posted to the AMBA website.

Production:
Production was estimated at 174 million bushels, up 45 percent from the 2021 total of 120 million bushels. The average yield, at 71.7 bushels per acre, was up 11.4 bushels from the previous year. Producers seeded 2.95 million acres in 2022, up 9 percent from 2021. Harvested area, at 2.43 million acres, was up 22 percent from 2021.

Stocks:
Barley stored in all positions on December 1, 2022 totaled 114 million bushels, up 17 percent from December 1, 2021. On-farm stocks are estimated at 63.5 million bushels, 47 percent above a year ago. Off-farm stocks, at 50.2 million bushels, are 7 percent below December 2021. The September – November 2022 indicated disappearance is 51.9 million bushels, 36 percent above the same period a year earlier.

The next stocks report, along with the prospective plantings report will be posted on the AMBA website March 31, 2023.

Additional $1 million secured for barley research in federal omnibus spending bill

The National Barley Improvement Committee (NBIC) is excited to confirm that the FY23 federal omnibus spending bill increased the annual appropriation to the Barley Pest Initiative (BPI) by $1 million annually, bringing the total to $3 million. These funds are allocated each year to support researchers at USDA Agricultural Research Service stations and land grant universities across fifteen states.  The NBIC is committed and is actively seeking additional funding increases in FY24 appropriations to reach their $5.3 million goal. 

Barley pests cause 5 to 15% yield reductions annually, resulting in losses of $36 to $118 million a year nationwide to growers. The BPI strengthens the capacity of the national public sector barley research infrastructure to address 20 major insect, viral, bacterial, and fungal threats to the production of high-quality barley. The Initiative focuses on improved environmental sustainability and economic returns to barley growers, while meeting the needs of domestic and export end-users for high-quality barley. 

Scientists are working to develop management and genetic resistance strategies to mitigate or eliminate the substantial negative economic impact of major barley pests.  This enhances the competitiveness of the barley crop, promoting a robust and high-quality supply of domestic barley for various end-users, thus minimizing industry reliance on global imports. New in FY23 are funds to support a barley curator within the GrainGenes project, which assists in the digital curation of genetic information accessible to all barley breeders in their quest to develop better barley. To learn more about the BPI and targeted pests, visit the NBIC website

The locations receiving funding through the BPI are (updated annual funding):

USDA-ARS facilities:

  • Aberdeen, Idaho ($314,717)
  • Ames, Iowa ($251,887)
  • Fargo, North Dakota ($429,623)
  • Ft. Detrick, Maryland ($141,509)
  • Lincoln, Nebraska ($81,509)
  • Pullman, Washington ($189,057)
  • Raleigh, North Carolina ($189,057)
  • St. Paul, Minnesota ($429,623)
  • Stillwater, Oklahoma ($314,717)
  • GrainGenes Barley Curator, national ($56,604)

Universities:

  • Cornell University ($31,698)
  • Montana State University ($63,396)
  • North Dakota State University ($63,396)
  • Ohio State University ($31,698)
  • Oregon State University ($31,698)
  • University of California-Davis ($63,396)
  • University of Idaho ($63,396)
  • University of Minnesota ($126,226)
  • University of Nebraska ($31,698)
  • Virginia Tech ($31,698)
  • Washington State University ($63,396)

American Malting Barley Association releases recommended variety list with two additions

The American Malting Barley Association (AMBA) Board of Directors annually develops a list of recommended malting barley varieties for U.S. growers for the upcoming crop year.  AMBA is a nonprofit trade organization, which represents the interests of end users of malting barley, including maltsters, brewers, distillers, and food processors. Their work seeks to maintain a stable and high quality supply of malting barley for their 60+ members throughout the U.S.

The AMBA Recommended List is intended to provide U.S. growers with guidance as to what varieties the industry may be contracting or purchasing in the coming year. It is not intended as a list of approved or certified malting varieties for the use by brewers, distillers, food companies, or maltsters. There may be many suitable malting barley varieties grown domestically or internationally that are not on the list yet have quality characteristics desired by the industry. Some varieties will be used in large quantities and many others are only utilized in niche markets, so producers are encouraged to contact their local elevator, grain handler or processor to gauge market demand for any variety grown in their region prior to seeding.

Additions to the 2023 list include CDC Fraser and KWS Donau. 

  • CDC Fraser is a spring variety registered in Canada in 2016 and developed by Dr. Aaron Beattie at the Crop Development Centre, University of Saskatchewan. It offers high extract, enzyme, and grain yield with a good disease resistance package. CDC Fraser has quickly gained momentum in western Canada, often replacing AC Metcalfe acreage. 
  • KWS Donau is a winter variety widely used in Austria and released by KWS Seeds. It is an early maturing variety with good yield, providing light-colored malts with favorable beta-glucan. KWS Donau possesses many of the same favorable attributes of its predecessor, KWS Wintmalt.

Varieties excluded from the 2023 list include Pinnacle and Charles – two varieties that have experienced significant decline in acreage over the past several years and are no longer considered recommended varieties to growers. 

With these changes from last year, the list of recommended malting barley varieties for 2023 is as follows:

Two-Row Varieties
AAC Connect Bill Coors 100 Flavia* Merit 57 ND Genesis
AAC Synergy CDC Copeland Hockett Moravian 37 Newdale
ABI Cardinal CDC Fraser KWS Donau* Moravian 69 Puffin*
ABI Eagle Conrad LCS Genie Moravian 164 Regina*
ABI Growler Endeavor* LCS Odyssey Moravian 165 Thunder*
ABI Voyager Expedition LCS Violetta* Moravian 170 Wintmalt*
AC Metcalfe Explorer Mayflower Moravian 179
Six-Row Varieties
Celebration Lacey Quest Tradition 
Innovation Legacy Thoroughbred*

* Winter varieties

Photo (courtesy of SeCan) of CDC Fraser

Root Shoot Malting joins AMBA

The American Malting Barley Association (AMBA) would like to formally welcome Root Shoot Malting, a craft malthouse that supplies the Rocky Mountain region with craft malt and grains. Founded by the Olander Family in 2016, owner-operators Steve and Todd Olander, are the 4th and 5th generations on the family farm, respectively, which has deep roots in malting barley production. In fact, much of the grain that runs through the malthouse is grown on the acres the Olander’s manage near Loveland, Colorado. 

In addition to being an award winning malthouse (with numerous Craft Malt Cup awards), and supplying malt to numerous award winning beers and spirits, Root Shoot is immensely focused on the critical issues of conservation and farmland preservation. Set in the Front Range, the original family farm is under constant development pressure, and the Olander’s have worked tirelessly to ensure the farmland that supports the malthouse stays farmland for generations to come. You can learn more about their 100-Year Lease project on their website. 

Root Shoot’s decision to join AMBA focused on their desire to become more engaged in the research and development of new malting barley varieties, and to gain insight on malt quality. They look forward to working with other like-minded professionals and want to contribute their knowledge and experience in the craft malt sector, which has realized tremendous growth over the past decade. 

AMBA is very excited to welcome craft malt industry leaders, Root Shoot Malting, to our membership base. Their participation and investment furthers our mission to encourage and support production of an adequate supply of high quality malting barley for our various end-user members. This is accomplished by building a network of engaged barley interests so that the best available research informs the development and production of the U.S. malting barley crop. Learn more about joining AMBA today: https://ambainc.org/membership-information/

Malting barley trade association launches sustainability task force

Malting barley has long been a favorable rotational crop for farmers, providing often unquantified benefits to the soil and cropping system. In fact, it’s what keeps barley in the rotation for many farmers. Nonetheless, barley production contributes significantly to the overall carbon footprint of beer and spirits. There is an increasing demand for beverage companies to account for that impact and find ways to reduce emissions. 

This call prompted the American Malting Barley Association (AMBA), a trade organization representing the interests of end users of malting barley, including maltsters, brewers, distillers, and food processors, to launch a Sustainability Task Force. This task force, first meeting on December 1, 2022, sought to rally industry leaders around a core message and purpose to prove and improve the sustainable nature of the crop. Over two dozen representatives from AMBA member companies came together to discuss the challenges and opportunities that face malting barley production. 

The primary goal of this work was to organize and prioritize efforts, informed by members and led by AMBA staff, that could be shared at their upcoming joint meeting with the National Barley Growers Association in June 2023. Participants acknowledged that this work can only be accomplished when we work together and that when approaching farmers, consistent messaging and aligned desires are necessary to ensure farmers continue growing this valuable crop. Other motivations for engagement included better understanding needs around sustainability up and downstream in the supply chain; identifying the most efficient approaches to meeting often ambitious targets; and how best to ensure high-quality barley into the future, acknowledging great threats that exist on the landscape. 

Themes discussed during this initial meeting included:

  • Defining metrics that can be used to determine a baseline and be monitored into the future to track progress. Having an established set of metrics not only allows the industry to communicate the positive qualities of barley, but to also illustrate improvements by the industry to strengthen the environmental benefits of barley production. 
  • Exploring malting barley’s role in regenerative agriculture. Opportunities exist to promote utilization of barley in cropping systems, especially when fall planted (winter varieties) are leveraged to provide continuous living cover over the soil. Establishing regenerative, best practices for barley are critical to leverage these opportunities. 
  • Greater research investment is needed to support future sustainable barley production. Evolving stressors related to climate change threaten barley production and developing new varieties that are resilient to these changes is necessary.

AMBA’s Sustainability Task Force will continue to meet to refine strategies and align efforts with other industry partners and stakeholders with the intended goal to develop a work plan that will guide sustainability focused work for the organization. AMBA looks forward to sharing success stories of how barley has helped the industry meet and or exceed sustainability goals.