New Aussie barley variety under evaluation

A new barley variety developed by the University of Adelaide and named after Coopers original brewery Leabrook has passed stage one of malt accreditation.

Leabrook, initially called WI4896, was first accepted by Barley Australia for malt barley evaluation in 2017. Having passed stage one of the malt accreditation process in March 2019, it is now in stage two and if passed will be available to growers in 2020.

Coopers Maltings manager Dr Doug Stewart, who has been assisting the university with accessing the barley, said that Leabrook closely resembles the malt variety Compass, which services the domestic brewing industry including the craft sector.

Stewart said that Leabrook has become a more desirable variety for its slightly higher yield and malt extract.

“If it’s exactly the same you’d sort of say ‘well why would you bother going through all the trouble with accrediting a new variety’ because it’s a lot of work.

“It’s two years worth of malting and brewing trials.”

He said that while it’s not a huge change, it’s an incremental improvement.

“This is just a little bit of improvement to both the brewer and the farmer,” Stewart said.

“We’ll call that a bit of a win win.”

Leabrook may be used to make any malt style including speciality malt.

Stewart toldBrews Newsthat Coopers’ operations manager Nick Sterenberg came up with the idea to name the variety for Coopers’ original brewery.

“It was very kind of [the university] to name the variety after Leabrook,” Stewart said.

“It’s a little piece of history.”

The university’s barley breeding program at its Waite Institute ended in June 2017. Variety WI4896 could be the last commercial barley variety officially named by the university.

“Because the University of Adelaide program is sort of wrapping up now or this might be the last release of barley they have from there so it will be nice that the last variety actually remembering a little piece of the industry.”

The university is encouraging growers and other industry stakeholders to compare the yield and agronomic attributes of Leabrook against other currently grown commercial varieties across the National Variety Trials network.

To find out more about Leabrook, please visit the National Variety Trials website.

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