supplying malt to the world’s leading brewers and distillers
Bairds are commited to supplying our customers with consistent quality malt. We know the importance of controlling raw ingredients which is why we work so closely with the growers where we source our barley.
It all starts with a seed
We’re working with the UK’s best barley growers to provide quality barley for quality malt.
“Our long-term multi-generational links to local farming communities around our maltings cements the highest quality and provenance commitment to our supply-chain. As we have done for nearly 200 years, we’re interested in forging lasting relationships with those who grow for us and providing a home for their malting barley that ensures we’re providing the finest quality malt with the finest barley we can find right here on the doorstep of the Maltings.”
Raw Materials Manager
tonnes of malt
tonnes of barley
Direct UK farm relationships
The story of the seed
There are 2 crops of barley grown in the UK; one sown in mainly in the September-November period which is known as “winter barley” and the other sown in the February-May period which is known as “spring barley”. Harvesting of the winter barley varies in timing across different regions of the UK but it tends to start in mid-July and complete by the start of August. Spring barley is usually harvested in August-September window. The general rule of thumb is that the further North you are in the UK the slightly later the harvesting window. For example, it is not unusual to see harvesting of spring barley in Scotland late September / early October if the weather patterns have moved in a certain way.
Winter barley is typically utilised in brewing for ales, lagers and roast products. Spring barley is used much more widely across both brewing and distilling. Spring barley varieties tend to suit the Scottish climate well to produce good extract and better predicted spirit yield than winter barley varieties can achieve.
The growing cycle of the different barley crops depend on which area in the UK it is sown as we can see significant differences in climate and the amount of sunlight hours the crop is exposed to:
English spring barley tends to have 120-130 day growing cycle compared to Scotland where the cycle can be as long as 150-160 days. The long, cool growing season that the Scottish crop typically experiences tends to produce lower protein barley which is ideal for distilling malt production. The shorter growing season in England generally delivers slightly higher protein which is more suited to producing brewing malts. Another key variable in barley quality which plays its part is soil type. Heavier land can hold onto its nutrients and moisture more than lighter sandy soils and produce very different protein and yields for the grower.
Within each category of winter and spring barley there are many different varieties of barley to choose from. Each season we host our own unique set of trial plots in different regions of the country to properly assess for ourselves the robustness of new varieties in the market. We need to ensure varieties will work for our grower base as well as our final malt customers, so we conduct full agronomic assessment of the barley and carry out micro-malt analysis to assess viability for our end users. This puts us on the front foot in the market to enable us to lead rather than follow.
At Bairds we have generations of different growers, big and small committed to our long-term barley procurement relationship that we can utilise to access the wide spread of variations within the UK’s crop and tailor it to customer requirements. We know that quality is crucial to our customers and that is why we have in-house merchanting organisation to build on the established relationships with local farms to each of our maltings. Provenance for us means putting faces to names and this ethos runs strongly through our business as we can trace our barley from farm to the final beer or whisky. We believe this provenance matters as it ensures we will continue to operate successfully for many generations to come.
Assured UK Malt
Bairds is a member of the UK Assured Malt Scheme This standard is specific to the malting process providing further assurance to our customers of our food safety, product legality, good operational practice and product quality. It demonstrates that the grain supply is from an assured source and verifies traceability throughout the malting process to the customer. This certification covers the accreditation of our HACCP systems which is a core element of this standard.