November 14, 2016 8:07 pm
Updated: November 15, 2016 12:20 pm

Late harvest hampers Saskatchewan’s beer-worthy barley crop

WATCH ABOVE: The late harvest is affecting more than just farmers. As Ryan Kessler reports, wet weather late in the season for the past few years is hurting the quality of Saskatchewan’s barley, and that could hurt local breweries.

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Saskatchewan’s late harvest is impacting many – from farmers to beer lovers.

Barley, a key ingredient in most beer, has suffered through wet weather during key periods for the past two or three years, according to Viv Jones, brewmaster with Great Western Brewing in Saskatoon.

“For this year, it started off reasonably well. But of course we had the snow in September and snow is not good for malted barley,” Jones said.

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READ MORE: Warm spell renews harvest hopes for Saskatchewan farmers

Brewers can tweak beer processing times and temperatures to alter the negative effects of barley downgrading.

However, Jones said the colour of a beer can “take a hit.”

“I don’t think the average drinker would notice, but we notice because we want everything to be consistent from batch to batch,” he said.

Staining and mildew are considered two of the leading concerns in barley downgrading in recent years.

“The stocks were very low going into this harvest and I feel like [brewers] are having a very difficult time filling their customers’ needs at this point,” said Blackstrap-area farmer Curtis Block.

Experts predict the rest of this year’s barley crop is more likely to become feed for animals than used as ingredients for beer.

“If it’s not off the field right now, it’s not going to be malting quality for sure. Usually malting barley comes off in August and early to mid-September,” said Norm Hall, president of the Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan.

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