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Brewing in the FLX: Name that Grain

Cornell University's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (Cornell CALS) is hosting a contest to name an innovative new spring malting barley that's created to prosper in New York's wet climate.
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Photo: Tembela Bohle via Pexels

Cornell University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) and the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets have teamed up to co-host a naming contest for an innovative new spring malting barley that’s made to prosper in New York’s wet climate—and to help craft brewers succeed.

Cornell CALS released the grain in March 2020 and it is climate-adapted to New York State for the first time ever. It aims to help brewers meet the state’s 2012 Farm Brewery Law standards to use more state-sourced ingredients when making beer, ultimately making sure 90 percent of the ingredients are from New York State by 2024.

New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets Commissioner Richard A. Ball said the new grain will help the state’s budding brewing industry while also supporting the state’s farmers.

“We are proud to support the work that Cornell CALS has done, in partnership with Cornell Cooperative Extension, to ensure our growers and brewers have optimal growing methods and ingredients to continue making some of the most unique and best craft beers in the country,” he said.

The variety is climate-adapted in that it is resistant to the local fungal pathogens and pre-harvest sprouting that can come with New York State’s often wet and cold climate.

The grain is currently called CU-31 and the contest to give it a more catchy name kicked off Nov. 12. Criteria for entries include that proposed names should be no more than one or two words, and that they should celebrate the state and/or its brewing heritage and culture.

Francis Domoy, one of the first farmers to grow CU-31 commercially for seed in the state, described the variety as demonstrating, “great uniformity, plump kernels, stiffness and large head size.”

The grain is being grown commercially for seed. It is expected to be available to brewers by the Fall of 2021.

Contestants in the naming contest can submit their ideas by filling out this online form. The competition runs through Dec. 3, 2020 and the winner will be announced Dec. 16 at a virtual Empire State Barley and Malt Summit. The lucky winner’s prize is a growler of New York State beer, courtesy of the New York State Brewers Association.

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