Victorian malting barley variety makes Extraordinary Norfolk Ale

Friday, May 17, 2013
3:32 PM

North Norfolk brewer Martin Warren has turned malt from a popular Victorian malting barley variety into a top-of-the-range ale.

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As he prepares to celebrate his first anniversary as a brewer, he said that he had come on a “very long journey” since being made redundant as a local government officer.

He had decided to create premium beers at the Poppyland Brewery, in Cromer, which could cost as much as £20 a bottle. “I find myself in an extraordinary position of actually achieving something which I thought would be possible.”

Speaking at the Barley to Beer launch, at Branthill Farm, Mr Warren said he brewed from malt made from the market-leading barley variety, Chevallier.

He said that research scientist, botanist and brewer Chris Ridout, of the John Innes Centre, had been looking at some of the earliest races of barley. By taking some seed from the national collection at Colney, they were able to multiply the variety and grow half an acre in Mid Norfolk.

The variety had been found growing near Debenham, in Suffolk, in 1820. The landowner, Robert Chevallier saw a small patch of barley growing in the garden of a farmworker. He had planted it in the garden. His landlord has grown more seed and eventually it became the malting barley of choice through Victorian times.

Mr Warren was given 8kg of Chevallier malt, which was enough to produce 14 litres of beer. “I realised that it made an extraordinary ale,” he said.

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