Malt From Alexis Barley – Return of a “Rock Star”!
Historic malting barley variety once again grown in the field, first batches of malt available with surprising qualities.
The Heidelberg-based family business Palatia Malz GmbH, in a joint effort with Saatzucht Josef Breun GmbH & Co. KG, has revived the traditional German malting barley variety Alexis. The malt produced exclusively by Palatia from this time-honored barley variety will now be marketed under the brand name “BEST A-XL”. The A in the name of the malt stands for “Alexis” and the XL (“extra large”) for the exceptional foam stability of a beer brewed with BEST A-XL.
“In Germany, the Alexis variety was approved as a malting barley in 1986 and was a #1 standard malting barley in Europe for many years. Alexis was a kind of ‘rock star’ among the barley varieties available at the time,” explains BESTMALZ CEO Dr. Axel Göhler. “In our search for something special, we came across Alexis. The decisive factor for us, however, was not the star image among brewers who have been in the business for a while. It was the outstanding foam properties that convinced us to have the variety grown again by a select group of farmers.”
As a result, in 2021 Saatzucht Breun grew modern malting barley varieties in direct comparison with the historic Alexis under the same conditions as part of state variety trials in Lower Saxony. The trials turned out well in favor of the historic variety, so that the BESTMALZ team headed by the founder’s grandson Axel Göhler decided to malt Alexis barley in the fall of 2021 at the Kreimbach-Kaulbach malthouse near Kaiserslautern on a highly innovative test facility. With the support of the Weihenstephan Technical University, very extensive barley and malting tests were carried out. Finally, test brews (malt from modern barley compared with malt from Alexis barley) were produced at a test facility in Munich and the beer was subjected to a number of trials. Their exceedingly good results were the basis for cultivation contracts and increases in seed production.
A second Alexis 2021 test growing area was located in the immediate vicinity of the Wallertheim malthouse near Mainz. “This made it possible to test other climatic conditions and to closely observe and follow the development,” explains Dr. Göhler. “Rhine-Hesse also proved to be a good growing region for the historic variety – despite the hot temperatures and dryness of the 2021 summer – and will be further expanded in the following years. In October 2022, the first batches of malt were produced and delivered to customers. So far with resounding success!”
BEST A-XL imparts a malty flavor to the beer, ensures a full body as well as a golden yellow color. An increased content of free amino nitrogen (FAN) suitably supplies yeast during fermentation. BEST A-XL shows up to 30 percent more foam stability in the beer glass in tests compared to conventional standard malts due to its well-balanced proteolytic and cytolytic properties. Malt from Alexis barley can be used up to 100% in the grain bill.
About Palatia Malz GmbH
Palatia Malz GmbH is a leading German malting group that is owner-managed in the third generation. Under the BESTMALZ umbrella brand, the company supplies breweries of all sizes, brewpubs, and home brewers in Germany and worldwide with more than 50 products for the production of high-class beers of various types and brewing styles. About half of the production is exported via distributors to over 60 countries worldwide. BESTMALZ is a nationally and internationally sought-after brand product and synonymous with German quality malt. More at www.bestmalz.de.
About Saatzucht Breun
Saatzucht Josef Breun GmbH & Co. KG is a midsized plant breeding company active in the breeding of the cereal varieties winter wheat, winter barley and spring barley. The Franconian family-owned company, now in its fourth generation, has a worldwide testing network and produces technical seed on its own farms. More at www.breun.de
About the spring barley variety ALEXIS
The ALEXIS variety was developed in 1975 by Josef Breun, the father of the current company owner Martin Breun, through crossbreeding and was approved in 1986. ALEXIS was the standard malting barley in Europe until 2005. With its first-ever combination of high yield, short straw, mildew resistance and its exceptional brewing performance, ALEXIS is a milestone or a “rock star” in the breeding of spring malting barley. With this combination of traits, the variety was granted conservation status in August 2016 as a significant genetic resource.