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Cornell University Testing Barley Strains to Meet Craft Beer Demand

Cornell University is conducting field trials of experimental varieties of barley at four farms across the state of New York.

A law passed in 2012 paved the way for the number of microbreweries to soar across the state but also called for those breweries to use locally sourced ingredients. Moving forward, New York’s growers will need to produce significantly more barley to meet the growing demand from the craft brewing industry.

Currently, by law, a minimum 20% of ingredients must be sourced by the state’s brewers and distillers from New York State in order to maintain their “farm brewery” license which allows brewers to sell alcoholic beverages by the glass. This requirement will climb to a minimum 60% in 2019 and to 90% by 2024.

However, the most popular varieties of barley are not well suited to New York’s climate, causing farmers to opt for other crops. In response, Mark Sorrels, head of the Small Grains Project and chairman of plant breeding and genetic is testing 40,000 varieties of barley to discover one more suited to New York’s warmer and more humid climate.

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