Pilot plant for malting confidence

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Image of a man in a brewery

DAFWA barley researcher Dr Chengdao Li in the pilot brewing facility at Edith Cowan University.

PHOTO: Evan Collis

A five or six-year process to take a new barley variety from field trials to malting accreditation is far from unusual, but a new pilot malting facility in Perth could help fast-track the process. GRDC-funded research aims to establish how closely the pilot malting process can replicate commercial malting.

Currently any new variety must produce about 600 tonnes a year for two years for commercial malting trials. This malt is then used in pilot brewing trials, as part of Barley Australia’s malting accreditation process.

The trials do not have to be done in consecutive years, and there have been delays in trials for some varieties when not enough has been grown as a result of seasonal conditions or low grower uptake. By comparison, pilot malting has a batch size of only 100 kilograms of barley.

If Pilot Malting Australia can accurately replicate commercial malting, or identify a reproducible correlation between pilot malting and commercial malting, it may give growers and traders more confidence in a variety prior to final malting accreditation being granted. Jon Luff is operations manager for Pilot Malting Australia, which runs the pilot plant at Edith Cowan University.

For the past year, he has been working to replicate the commercial malting at Joe White Maltings’ Perth malting plant, scaling down from 300t to 100kg. “It is not quite a linear process, so we have had to make some adjustments. But the pilot plant is highly programmable. It should allow us to replicate any number of commercial malting programs.”

The pilot plant operates as a joint venture between Edith Cowan University and the Australian Export Grains Innovation Centre (AEGIC). Mr Luff says AEGIC is hoping it can also be used to replicate a range of malting processes, to test the suitability of new Australian barleys for both domestic and export markets.


More information:

Barley Australia,

www.barleyaustralia.com.au

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GRDC Project Code AEG00003

Region West