Zymurgy Extra: 2-Row vs 6-Row Barley
The following is an excerpt from the May/June 2013 Zymurgy free online extra by Elspeth Payne! For the complete article, please click 'full article' below. Make sure to check out past Zymurgy free online extras, too!
I was sitting in the shade enjoying the lovely Belgian ale on tap when someone asked me what I thought about two-row barley. I am lucky enough to live in a region where I can get either six-row or two-row most of the time, so I adjust my grain bill to the recipe at hand, rather than the other way around. Many brewers prefer two-row barley for its greater extract value; on examination that’s interesting, since the difference is 1 to 2 percent, hardly noticeable at the homebrewer level. I generally prefer two-row, but I’m not sure I could quantify why, since both types appear in many of my favorite beers. Maybe we all think two-row is just more chic.
Two-row or six-row? It’s a very American question. Most of the rest of the world uses six-row barley only for livestock feed, not for beer. I thought six-row barley had been bred especially to increase output, but it turns out to be a naturally-occurring result of a pair of mutations, one dominant and one recessive. Both two-row and six-row barley have been around for a long, long time...
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