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50 years of Maris Otter

It may seem strange to note the anniversary of a cereal variety, but there’s good reason to celebrate the half century of one particular barley type. Particularly so given the tale of domination, decline, rescue and revival that spans its extraordinary 50 year history.

While Maris Otter might not be a household name, it is widely known among cereal farmers and legendary among a group of craft brewers and beer-lovers. Once malted, it becomes the ingredient by which loyalist brewers swear.

Although less than 6% of British beer is produced with Maris Otter malt, ten of the most recent fifteen Champion Beers of Britain are made with Maris Otter. Quite a record for an ingredient.

Most cereal varieties are superseded within five or six years. 50 years’ continual production is truly exceptional. It is, as Mark Banham from grain merchants H Banham points out, “well worth commemorating.” So he has joined forces with David Holliday from Norfolk Brewhouse to create a commemorative beer festival.


50 new beers are being created especially for the national Maris Otter 50th anniversary festival in Norwich, 17th – 19th September. Brewers from 46 different counties of Britain and 4 countries from across the world are each providing a birthday beer for the event.

“This is the first beer festival to have all 50 beers brewed with a single malt variety,” says Mark, “As far as we know, it’s also the first birthday party ever to be held in honour of a grain!”

Participating breweries range from Baird Beer in Japan and Yeastie Boys in New Zealand to St Austell in Cornwall, Otter in Devon, Eden in Cumbria, Lion Heart in the West Midlands and Black Sheep in Yorkshire.

The full list can be seen by scrolling down this page:  http://www.h-banham.co.uk/maris-otter-50-beer-festival-ticket-information/