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Disappointing barley harvest bad news for small Belgian brewers

15:47 16/08/2023

Bad weather this summer has resulted in a poor yield when it comes to the barley harvest.

This is unwelcome news for small Belgian brewers, RTBF reports, with the industry calling it "catastrophic".

“This could pose a problem in terms of finding enough barley,” said Sébastien Verleyen, head of production at Liège cooperative brewery Badjawe.

“Will we be able to work with the same growers as in previous years, or will we have to look further afield? We'll have to wait and see. There's also a risk that prices will rise.”

Catherine Marlier, co-founder of the Cultivae cooperative, which acts as an intermediary between farmers and brewers, said the poor harvests endanger brewers who work with local barley.

“You can see the difference between barley harvested before 15 July and that harvested after the rains,” Marlier said.

“We really have two different qualities this year and we won't be able to supply the quantity we promised to maltsters and brewers.

"Normally, we're in the process of increasing tonnages of local barley because organic brewers are demanding it. But this year, we won't be able to supply everything."

One solution being considered is a relaxation on requirements for brewers with a local label, which would let them turn to sources abroad to cope with the exceptional situation.

Written by Helen Lyons