Harvesting barley

Food We Produce

Malting Barley

Holkham has a long tradition of growing both winter and spring barley for the brewing industry. Indeed, it is said that the maritime micro-climate found in the north Norfolk area makes for superlative malting barley that has been prized by brewers for many years.

Spring Barley
In spring 2013, Holkham entered into an exclusive deal with world famous, Southwold-based brewer Adnams, to supply approximately 75% of the malt to be used by the brewery for their brewing and distilling, with Holkham growing a specific variety, Laureate, expressly for Adnams. This approach to local sustainability of supply of good quality barley from field to brewery was driven by Boortmalt, a leading Suffolk maltster based in Bury St. Edmunds with Adnams and Boortmalt working together to source a local supply of quality malting barley.

The arrangement suits both parties – Adnams knows what the quality of the grain will be, and Holkham knows it has a guaranteed market for most of its crop. Adnams takes spring barley in preference to winter barley as the spring crop has a dual purpose – it can be used to make beer, but it can also be distilled to make spirits. The brewers are committed to producing quality products sustainably for long term success. Adnams’ relationship with Holkham means that the company can increase the transparency of its supply chain for both farmer and brewer. The relationship forged between the two companies also means that volatility in the grain markets and the variation in the quality of malting barley from year to year, can be managed successfully.

Winter Barley
Winter barley, on the other hand, goes only to make beer. It also has the attraction that it fits really well into Holkham Farming Company’s crop rotation scheme. It is planted in mid-September into fields that have grown potatoes. After growing through the winter and spring, it is harvested early, around the third and fourth week of July, which leaves plenty of time to condition the soil before it is next planted with oil seed rape in mid-August.