From field to Kitchen How Barley Becomes Beeer
Barley is one of the five main grain crops in Ontario — while it isn’t as widely grown as corn, soy, or wheat, Ontario grain farmers sold over 50 thousand tonnes of barley last year. That doesn’t count the tonnes of barley farmers grew to use on their own farms as animal feed.
Barley is a versatile and nutritious cereal grain with hundreds of food applications. It’s full of dietary fiber and beta glucans, a type of carbohydrate shown to decrease the levels of saturated fats in the bloodstream and linked with lowering the risk of heart disease.
There’s still one thing that barely — specifically, a variety called malting barley — is famous for beer.
Barley is one of four main ingredients in beer, along with water, hops, and yeast. The first step is malting the barley: grains are immersed in water until they sprout, and then dried to make the seed stop growing.
Next, the malted barley is crushed between rollers to break up the grains into mash – the mash is drained to separate the solid material from the fermentable sugars. At this point, the brewer has already added the hops, which has a bitter flavor to balance out the sweetness of the barley mash.
The liquid sugars drained off of the mash are then added to a fermentation tank, which has already been filled with the necessary amount of yeast. Depending on the recipe, this mixture will be kept at a constant temperature over a prescribed number of weeks to ferment into beer, ready for bottling and sale.