ELDERS will hit the market with a new malt barley variety this season with its Alestar line winning Barley Australia malt accreditation on Thursday.
According to the company Alestar has already attracted interest from the brewing sector due to its high-quality malt and the consistency and evenness of the way it malted.
Elders seed manager Colin Smith said Coopers Brewery, Boortmalt and Barret Burston Malt have expressed interest in securing crop from the 2021 planting, while several smaller brewers like the Armidale, NSW based Welders Dog brewery are already using Alestar as their main malt.
And there is also reason to be optimistic that growers will support the variety.
Mark Humphrey, a grower at Murray Bridge, SA, has trialled Alestar over the past two years as part of Elders' bulk up efforts.
In 2019, Mr Humphrey planted 20 hectares as a trial, before deciding to increase the allocation to 90ha in 2020.
This year, he plans to sow about 400ha to Alestar
Mr Humphrey said Alestar had performed well in the 375mm annual rainfall environment, with yields around 3 tonnes a hectare both years, in spite of dry spells during the growing season.
"The dry spell stunted the other variety of barley I grew, whereas the Alestar still kept growing and didn't seem to suffer through that dry spell," he said.
"The other variety also dropped a lot of heads before we harvested and we lost a lot of barley on the ground but the Alestar seemed to hang onto the heads better.
"The Alestar yielded 3t/ha but the other variety was only 2-2.5t/ha."
Quality wise, he said protein levels had been ideal to make malt classifications
Mr Smith wasn't surprised to hear how reliably Alestar performed at Murray Bridge, pointing to other successful crops across New South Wales, South Australia, Victoria and southern Queensland.
"It just seems to be very versatile in where it will grow," Mr Smith said.
"Alestar has performed very consistently in Southern NSW around Oaklands and Lockhart and into the Riverina over the past three years, where it has consistently achieved Malt 1 specification, he said.
"Following enquiry from as far afield as Tasmania, we have decided to do some larger scale trial paddocks in Tasmania to see how it performs in the higher rainfall zones as well.
"In 2019, most of the malt barley growing regions of the country had a very tight finish, which increased the screenings at harvest but Alestar has shown that it tolerates these tight finishes better than a lot of varieties and consistently has shown low screening levels."
Alestar has been trialled extensively across a wide spectrum of growing regions and has shown excellent straw strength, a good disease package and good head retention.
In its notes Barley Australia said Alestar was suited, though not restricted to, the domestic malt market.
It said the variety would fit in regions where Commander and Westminster varieties were currently successfully grown.