Barley identification

Welcome! Here you will find images to help you find out how to identify barley grains

  • Barley Grain Dorsal
    Barley Grain Dorsal
    Dorsal view of bold even barley sample.
  • Barley Grain Ventral
    Barley Grain Ventral
    Ventral view of a bold even barley sample.
  • Anthocyanin Nerve Pigment
    Anthocyanin Nerve Pigment
    In some barleys the aleurone cells are coloured blue or red with anthocyanin pigments. The presence or absence of pigment does not reflect malt quality but can be useful as a varietal marker. A grain showing anthocyanin nerve pigmentation is pictured above.
     
  • No Pigment
    No Pigment
    In some barleys the aleurone cells are coloured blue or red with anthocyanin pigments. The presence or absence of pigment does not reflect malt quality but can be useful as a varietal marker. A grain showing no anthocyanin pigmentation is pictured above.
  • Spicules
    Spicules
    The amount of spicule development on the inner nerves is a good varietal indicator and can be seen with a magnifying glass or felt with the finger. The number of spicules varies from none to many in different varieties.
     
  • Grain Shape Plump
    Grain Shape Plump
    Grain shape and size can differ considerably between varieties. Even within grains of the same variety there can be noticeable differences in size and relative proportions.
  • Grain Shape Elongated
    Grain Shape Elongated
    Grain shape and size can differ considerably between varieties. Even within grains of the same variety there can be noticeable differences in size and relative proportions.
  • Short Haired Rachilla
    Short Haired Rachilla
    Rachillae, present at the base of the ventral furrow, are classified as long, medium or short and as having long or short hairs. Rachillae may be lost during threshing, but rachilla characteristics are stable and a good indicator of variety (Briggs 1998). An example of short haired rachilla is shown above.
  • Long Haired Rachilla
    Long Haired Rachilla
    Rachillae, present at the base of the ventral furrow, are classified as long, medium or short and as having long or short hairs. Rachillae may be lost during threshing, but rachilla characteristics are stable and a good indicator of variety (Briggs 1998). An example of long haired rachilla is shown above.
  • Short Long Haired Rachilla
    Short Long Haired Rachilla
    Rachillae, present at the base of the ventral furrow, are classified as long, medium or short and as having long or short hairs. Rachillae may be lost during threshing, but rachilla characteristics are stable and a good indicator of variety (Briggs 1998). An example of long haired rachilla is shown above.
  • Mellow, Bold, Even Sample
    Mellow, Bold, Even Sample
    Rachillae, present at the base of the ventral furrow, are classified as long, medium or short and as having long or short hairs. Rachillae may be lost during threshing, but rachilla characteristics are stable and a good indicator of variety (Briggs 1998). An example of long haired rachilla is shown above.
  • Varietal Admixture
    Varietal Admixture
    The malting barley variety is critical to the character of the final malt and varietal purity is of great concern to the maltster. Not only do single variety bulks of barley malt uniformly, most brewing and distilling customers select malt by specific variety and maltsters are bound contractually to deliver accordingly.
  • Split Grains
    Split Grains
    Splits usually form in the ventral furrow, and as well as impairing the ability of the grain to germinate also allow mould growth to develop.
  • Half Grains
    Half Grains
    Maltsters require mature, plump, uniform barley that will germinate vigorously and and uniformly. They do not want skinned, cracked or damaged grains. Skinning and breaking occurs when careless or improper harvesting methods are used. Malting barley that has been harvested and threshed properly should contain few skinned or damaged grains.
  • Damaged Grains
    Damaged Grains
    Maltsters require mature, plump, uniform barley that will germinate vigorously and and uniformly. They do not want skinned, cracked or damaged grains. Skinning and breaking occurs when careless or improper harvesting methods are used. Malting barley that has been harvested and threshed properly should contain few skinned or damaged grains.
  • Screenings
    Screenings
    Good malting requires plump, even sized corns, which must be covered by an even husk without ‘gape’ or splitting. Water uptake into the grain must be at an even rate and amount; to ensure that germination all takes place at the same time and with equal vigour. Variation in husk thickness, or incomplete husk coverage will affect water uptake. Small or under-sized grains will not perform as well as ideal corns, so standards are set, based upon the percentage of grains retained over a screen.

    The standard of most countries, except England and Wales, is 90% retained over a 2.5mm screen. Scottish growers trade malting barley on the 2.5mm standard, however, the standard is different for barley purchased in England, where maltsters normally accept 94% retained over a 2.25mm screen. UK brewers are attuned to this practice, and the resultant malt.
  • Unthreshed Ears
    Unthreshed Ears
  • Mouldy Grains
    Mouldy Grains
    Incomplete or slow drying can lead to mouldy grain and mycotoxin production
  • Excess Awn
    Excess Awn
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  • Unripe Grains
    Unripe Grains
    Barley has to grow evenly during the malting process to ensure high quality malt. Unripe or damaged corns cause problems; they do not producing any usable extract (or spirit yield for distilling), and they can impair the quality of the finished malt.