University of Tasmania researchers have discovered a new variety of malt barley in Tasmania which has the potential to be exported internationally for use in boutique beers and whiskeys.

Researchers from the Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture (TIA) discovered the new variety, Macquarie Barley, through a breeding program funded by the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC).

TIA Cereal Breeder Associate Professor Meixue Zhou identified the new crop which is named after the river in the State’s Midlands.

Tasmanian farmers will host the first trials. If they are successful the product would be expanded to overseas markets.

Assoc Prof Zhou said Macquarie Barley was a suitable replacement to other types of malt barley (including Gairdner and Franklin) due to its malting quality, improved disease resistance and yield.

“Hopefully this variety will be another viable cereal option for growers,” he said.

TAP AgriCo (TAP), Tasmania’s largest cereal grain storage and handling company, has recently secured a licence to the variety which is to be grown exclusively by local farmers.

“The craft brewing industry is expanding globally,” TAP’s Managing Director David Skipper said.

“It is estimated that the Australian craft beer market sits between 65-70 million litres or around three per cent by volume of the total Australian beer market.

“The US craft brewing industry is increasing at 15 per cent per annum year on year and this trend is now emerging in Australia.

“TAP’s market feedback suggests that the local whiskey industry is keen to use a 100 per cent Tasmanian provident malt barley in their distilleries, saying that it will be the first time a uniquely local product will be trialed in what is already a world class whiskey and craft brewing industry.”

University of Tasmania’s Director of Business Development and Technology Transfer, Dr Darren Cundy, said the partnership was a great example of the University’s on-going commitment to transfer research outcomes to local industry.

“It is a testament to the importance of the relationship that TIA and TAP have worked hard to maintain,” he said.

“We are excited to support TAP on this trial, and look forward to seeing a strong market demand for the variety.”

Ever thought of studying Agricultural Science? The University of Tasmania offers a range of undergraduate and postgraduate degrees such as the  Bachelor of Applied Science (Food Science and Innovation), Bachelor of Agricultural Science and Master of Applied Science (Specialisation).