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New research to take beer and make it better

Brewers and beer drinkers stand to gain from new research taking place at the Saskatchewan Institute of Applied Science and Technology


Saskatoon, Sask. – They’re just tiny kernels, but they play a big part when it comes to beer.

And now the Saskatchewan Institute of Applied Science and Technology (SIAST) is taking those barley kernels and working on a project to determine how technology can better identify the premium ones.

SIAST says it’s working with Spectrum Agricultural Inc., a research and development firm based in Manitoba.

Together they’re working on a cost-effective way to sort barley kernels with favourable malting qualities from the lower-quality barley kernels. And they’re going to be using acoustic and optical measuring methods.

More and better barley

The research could lead to an increase in the availability of higher value malting barley for both domestic use and export.

Spectrum Agricultural already has an optical-mechanical technology, which it developed and patented, for sorting infected wheat kernels from sound wheat kernels.

The company hopes to apply the same technology to barley.

The challenge is that barley hulls limit what can be identified in the underlying kernel, so the technology will have to be adapted.

But first the students will learn the primary grade determinants and other important quality characteristics of malting barley. They will use this knowledge to inspect, document and store hundreds of individual barley kernels.

The detailed information on each kernel will be used to set the operating parameters for the inspection instruments on the sorting machine.

“There is a sizeable amount of data to be collected and analyzed in our work with SIAST,” says Dr. David Prystupa, president of Spectrum Scientific Inc., the parent company of Spectrum Agricultural.

“By partnering with SIAST, we can significantly reduce our time to market.”

SIAST’s Office of Applied Research and Innovation (OARI) facilitated the partnership by securing a $25,000 grant through the College and Community Innovation program of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), enabling Spectrum to access applied R&D expertise at SIAST.