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. While Maris Otter might not be a household name, it is legendary among a group of craft brewers and beer-lovers. Once malted, it becomes the ingredient by which loyalist brewers swear. In fact, although the proportion of British beer produced with Maris Otter malt is less than 6%, a colossal nine of the most recent fourteen Champion Beers of Britain are made with Maris Otter.
Most cereal varieties are superseded within five or six years. 50 years’ continual production is truly exceptional.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 brand new beers are being created for the Maris Otter 50th anniversary festival in Norwich, 17th – 19th September. They‘re being crafted by brewers from 44 different counties of Britain and 6 countries from across the world. “This is the first beer festival to have all 50 of its beers brewed especially for the occasion.” says Mark, “As far as we know, it’s also the first birthday party ever to be held for a grain variety!
“Brewers from far and wide have been asking how to get involved. Limitations of space mean we’re sticking to 50 cask beers for the Festival. But brewers can create celebrations in their own home towns, using their Maris Otter beers to toast the 50th harvest of the amazing barley grain. We look forward to hearing about any birthday plans they make!”
Pictured above are Tom Rivett and Tim Walpole of H Banham grain merchants checking the sowing of the 50th anniversary crop of Maris Otter barley
MO50th Beer Festival tickets are available here.