Fun Facts about Malt Barley

November 16, 2018

Barley is an ancient grain that has been a food source for thousands of years, dating back to the Neolithic period and all the way through ancient Israelite, Egyptian, and Greek cultures.

Roasted barley was first used as a coffee substitute in Italy during the world wars.

The Egyptians were the first known brewers of barley into beer. 

Roman gladiators were called ‘barley men’ because they ate large quantities of barley bread believing that it increased their stamina and strength.

Until the 16th century, barley was Europe’s most important crop and even used as currency at times.

Barley was once used as a standard of measurement in England. One inch was equal to three barley kernels, and kernels were also used to measure shoe size.

Canada is the second-largest malting barley and malt exporter in the world, exporting about one million tonnes of malting barley each year and 600,000 tonnes of malt.

Beer from barley accounts for 1.2% of Canada’s GDP and generates $5.8 billion in annual tax revenue.

Sales of Canadian malting barley and malt combined total around $1 billion a year, not including sizable spinoff benefits to the Canadian economy.

One acre of malt barley can produce approximately 11,000 pints of beer.

The term ‘maltster’ is believed to be a contraction of the words ‘malt’ and ‘stirrer,’ which refers to a task that was part of the malting process before techniques were modernized.

Canadian beer is actually older than Canada. In fact, beer production pre-dates Confederation by more than 200 years.

Jean Talon founded Quebec’s first commercial brewery to reduce the colony's dependence on imported brandy. The brewery, inaugurated in 1688, was so successful that its beers were sold in the West Indies, making it the first Canadian beer ever exported.

Local breweries annually purchase 300,000 tonnes of Canadian malting barley.

More than 85% of beer consumed in Canada is manufactured domestically.

In Canada, beer has 3 times the economic impact of wine and spirits combined. 

The most popular alcoholic beverage in Canada is beer, making up more than 45% of all alcoholic beverage sales in Canada.

In 2016, 3.2 billion cans, 2.1 billion bottles and 41.1 million kegs of beer were sold in Canada.

The number of brewing facilities across Canada increased to 775 in 2016, up more than 20% from 644 in 2015.

The most beer consumed per capita is in the Czech Republic – 150 litres per person each year. Canadian per capita consumption was 77.1 litres in 2016.

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