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Jun 08, 2022 View:

Growing Barley

What is the best stain of barley for malting for whiskey that can be grown in the northeast?


I don't know much about Vermont when it comes to growing, but 6-row variety, Robust, is what is grown in the largest quantities in the northern reaches of the grain belt (the Dakotas). Robust would work just fine for malt whiskey.


In the UK, the Institute of Brewing Barley Committee and the Scottish Agricultural College assess barley varieties (grown in the UK) and issue I think an annual report. You may want to try to see what they report, and whether such varieties are grown here in the US. Some that are grown in the UK are Derkado, Mareso, and Decanter. I'm sure there are many others.

One possible issue is the presence of urethane in the barley. It's naturally occurring. It's also a precursor to ethyl carbamate.

You may want to contact the state Department of Agriculture and any ag departments at VT colleges. They might be helpful in identifying varieties suitable to your climate.


You might also want to contact the various barley councils. Apparently in the US all the big distillers use 6-row grown in the Dakotas, Idaho and Montana. Doesn't mean 2-row can't be used, just that there might not be as much efficiency.

For further information contact:

Idaho Barley Commission

1199 Main Street, Suite G

Boise, ID 83702-5630

Tel: 1-208-334-2090

Fax: 1-208-334-2335 Website: www.idahobarley.org

Montana Wheat and Barley Comittee

P.O. Box 3024

Great Falls, MT 59403-3024

Tel: 1-406-761-7732

Fax: 1-406-761-7851 Website: www.agr.state.mt.us

National Barley Growers Association

821 West State Street

Boise, ID 83702-5832

Tel: 1-208-334-2090

Fax: 1-208-334-2335 Website: www.nationalbarley.com

National Barley Foods Council

905 West Riverside, Suite 501

Spokane, WA 99201

Tel: 1-509-456-4400

Fax: 1-509-456-2807

E-mail: [email protected]

Website: www.barleyfoods.org

North Dakota Barley Council

505 40th St SW, Suite E

Fargo, ND 58103

Tel: 1-701-239-7200

Fax: 1-701-239-7280

E-mail: [email protected]

Website: www.ndbarley.net/

American Malting Barley Association

740 North Plankinton Avenue, Suite 830

Milwaukee, WI 53203

Tel: 1-414-272-4640

Fax: 1-414-272-4631

E-mail: [email protected]

Website: www.ambainc.org

Washington Barley Commission

905 West Riverside Avenue, Suite 501

Spokane, WA 99201

Tel: 1-509-456-4400

Fax: 1-509-456-2807 Website: www.washingtonbarley.org

btw, I found this info over at the US Grains Council (www.grains.org)


Keep us posted on what you find out. It was my understanding that 2-row was the favorite for breweries because it has a slightly higher yield.



The variety and strain of barley for malting is almost entirely dependent on your growing region (and the engineered strains for those regions). I'm in the middle of high plains and mountain barley country and 2-row reigns supreme for malt while 6-row is grown for feed. Elsewhere, that's not always the case. Your mileage will vary on the physical/chemical breakdown for various strains in each region.