Boortmalt has announced that the protein specification for distilling grade barley has been increased from 9.3% to 9.7% for the year ahead.
The announcement comes as demand for brewing barley is low due to the pandemic.
However, even with this rise in specification, reaching distilling grade remains a challenge and one that comes with little reward.
There is just €10/t more paid for distilling barley over brewing barley, despite in most cases a requirement to reduce nitrogen rates and ultimately yield to meet protein specifications, as well as requiring a bit of luck with the weather.
15% cut in tonnage
The announcement on protein specifications came along with news of a cut in overall tonnage of approximately 15% this season. However, for farmers who most regularly deliver brewing barley, the cut in tonnes delivered is likely to be substantially bigger than 15%.
The COVID-19 pandemic has seen a decrease in the need for brewing barley as pubs are closed
Tom Bryan of Boortmalt spoke at the Teagasc Malting Barley conference on Tuesday 22 February and did not give any definite clarification on the percentages of brewing and distilling barley to be delivered by farmers. The COVID-19 pandemic has seen a decrease in the need for brewing barley as pubs are closed.
Bryan stated that contracts will be tailored to individual growers and their history of delivering brewing and distilling barley. He also noted that the overall cut could be less than 15%.