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Get Ahead of the Season Ahead: Tight Barley Supply in 2022
A poor harvest in North America last year is combining with hot weather and war in Europe to constrain supply and raise prices. However, there are reasons to be optimistic. Here’s what you need to know to stay on top of your malt supply.
Farmers harvest barley in Washington’s Walla Walla Valley. Photo: Courtesy Mainstem Malt.
The sky isn’t falling in Big Sky Country, but 2021 was an undeniably bad year for much of North America’s barley crop. Heat and drought dealt an uncommonly poor hand to growers in Idaho, Montana, and North Dakota, as well as in Canada’s Prairie Provinces. With both average yields and stocks much lower than they have been in years, industry experts looked anxiously to the immediate future, raising fears about pricing, quality, and availability.
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Author of The Great Northeast Brewery Tour, a contributor to The Oxford Companion to Beer, and former editor of BeerAdvocate, Ben Keene has judged beer competitions across the US and has spoken at industry conferences and conventions. He lives in Seattle.