Lifetime achievement awards for champions of Maris Otter barley
- Credit: Submitted
The farm businessmen who drove the success of a revered malting barley into its 50th year of commercial production have been honoured with lifetime achievement awards.
Norfolk agricultural merchant Tony Banham and Hampshire grain merchant Robin Appel were given their awards by the All Party Parliamentary Beer Group, represented by more than 300 members of the House of Commons and House of Lords.
The honour was to reward their efforts for reviving and championing Maris Otter barley, which celebrates its 50th harvest this year.
The pair bought the rights to the variety in 2000, rescuing it from extinction, improving its quality over the years and promoting its use in the brewing industry, where it is now regarded as one of the most celebrated malting barleys in the world.
Although it represents a small section of the overall barley market, the majority of the last 14 Champion Beers of Britain have been brewed with Maris Otter malt.
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Mr Banham, of H Banham Ltd based at Hempton, near Fakenham, said: 'The real credit goes to the farmers who do such a great job of producing such high quality crops. And of course the maltsters and the brewers who are responsible for all those outstanding Maris Otter beers.'
The awards were presented by Andrew Griffiths MP, chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Beer Group.
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In thanking the chairman, Mr Appel drew attention to his frustration that for far too long, when brewers chose to describe their beers they only ever referred to the variety and characteristics of the hops, without any reference to the variety and characteristics of the barley malt.
'For too long any discussion on beer ingredients has focussed on hops,' he said. 'But tonight you have helped to change all that by putting one particular variety of barley, Maris Otter, on a pedestal.'