No one likes stale beer, unless you’re dying of thirst in the desert, in which case anything goes. But for those of us enjoying a healthy state of hydration, the fresher the pint, the better. Australian farmers, with the help of the University of Adelaide and brewer Carlsberg, are growing a new breed of barley called “Charger”, that can help beer stay fresh for longer.
Brewers in Europe are already using barley with similar properties, but Charger has been selected specifically for Australian and Asian markets, according to a story by the ABC’s Kerry Staight. Birgitte Skadhauge, Carlsberg’s director of applied research, says the barley should increase the longevity of beer by “at least” 50 per cent.
A “lazy” enzyme by the name of lipoxygenase is responsible for the barley’s magical freshness-granting properties. The enzyme is what causes the loss of flavour, as it creates fat from lipids as a part of the malting process. In Charger, the enzyme isn’t as cooperative as it is in other strains, hence beer made with it stays fresh longer.
Farmers in South Australia have been growing the barley since 2012, however, harvests haven’t been up to the quality required for brewing. On the bright side, the University of Adelaide has concocted a second version and is confident it’ll do better than the original.