QUALITY manager at Coopers Brewery Doug Stewart said the company would continue to look at various combinations of barley varieties for its product range of beers – including some novel ideas.
Dr Stewart said the South Australian brewer was contemplating going back to the future and utilising an old faithful variety barely grown in Australia now for a special range of craft-type beers.
“Schooner has been surpassed by other varieties agronomically, but brewers really like it for its range of end use characteristics,” Dr Stewart told a tour group from the Grain Growers Innovation Generation conference in Adelaide last week.
“It also has an interesting backstory, being somewhat of a heritage variety.
“We have seen the success of the Maris Otter variety in England, which is well regarded by the brewers, who advertise their beer uses that variety, and there’s no reason Schooner could not play a similar role in Australia.”
Dr Stewart said Schooner had a range of desirable end use characteristics, in particular for the craft brewing sector.
It is low in diastatic power and has an enzyme profile that is consistent with good body and mouth feel, along with possessing good aroma, which Dr Stewart was a difficult characteristic to quantify.
Given the agronomic superiority of other varieties, he said brewers wanting to get their hands on Schooner would have to pay a premium but he said he was confident if the right pricing signals were presented, growers would be happy to grow the variety.
Other initiatives in the Coopers pipeline include regional beers, using barley exclusively sourced from a specific region.
“We’ve had discussions about creating a Clare Valley or a Kangaroo Island beer, using only barley from a specific region,” Dr Stewart said.
He said logistically, it would be no problem to source barley only from a designated region.
The idea of products based on regionality is common in the wine industry, where wines are marketed by their region of origin, but the concept is only in its infancy in the beer world.
In terms of its mainstream offerings, Dr Stewart said Coopers currently used the Commander and Scope varieties, with around 75p per cent of the barley used being Commander and 25pc Scope.
He said there had been promising results with varieties yet to gain Barley Australia malt accreditation, such as Compass and Spartacus.
Coopers usually works with barley in the 10-10.5pc protein range.
“Different brewers have different requirements in terms of protein, you get some that want levels higher, some lower, it depends on the individual style of the brewery.”