An Intro to UK Barley: How it is Grown, Climatic Challenges & Golden Promise

At Simpsons Malt, we oversee all aspects of the barley growing process through our agricultural merchanting division McCreath Simpson & Prentice (MSP), who assist their farming customers from seed, through to agronomy advice, onto harvest and then storage ahead of malting.

To assist with the advice and expertise that MSP staff are able to offer their farming customers from year to year, we operate a Spring Barley Variety Trials site at Beal Farm in Northumberland, UK, which allows us to assess current varieties and new, up and coming varieties on a field scale basis.

The field comprises a total of 16 varieties, with some being brewing-only varieties, others distilling-only and also some dual-purpose (brewing and distilling) varieties.

Ahead of harvest, Vice Chairman Richard Simpson, Seed Director Paul Huntley and Agrochemical & Technical Director David Cairns came together to film “An Introduction to our Spring Barley Variety Trials”, offering an insight into all things UK barley.

Watch the video below…

After a short introduction from Richard, Paul begins by talking about how barley varieties are chosen and what qualifies them to become commercially viable and reach the coveted AHDB Recommended List.

David then speaks about how the UK’s maritime climate makes it perfect for growing barley – but not that it comes without its challenges, as the year 2020 has proven with its wet winter and exceptionally dry spring.

The trio then chat about heritage variety Golden Promise and why that is no longer on the AHDB Recommended List but is still grown widely across Northumberland and into Scotland.

Paul then delves into details on market-leading, dual-purpose brewing and distilling variety Laureate, before focusing on up and coming varieties LG Diablo and SY Tungsten and then onto Cadiz – a variety which, after years of progression through the system, doesn’t look like it will become commercially viable, such is the thin line between the success and failure of a variety.

We hope you find this 20-minute video of interest and, if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us via email on or via our Facebook, Twitter or Instagram accounts.