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Beyond the Barley: Craft Brewers Go Rogue on Grain Bills

Move over, barley. Make room for some exciting new grains.

Emily Hutto Apr 13, 2017 - 6 min read

Beyond the Barley: Craft Brewers Go Rogue on Grain Bills Primary Image

There’s an increased excitement among craft brewers around brewing beyond the barley. They’re using spelt to boost body and millet and buckwheat to create gluten-free options, and they’re experimenting with brand new grains just hitting the market. The flavors coming out of this exploratory movement are surprising palates and providing alternatives for people who couldn’t drink beer otherwise.


Brewers love adding spelt to beer to boost body and head retention. It’s similar to wheat, though it has a slightly more toasty flavor. Spelt’s high protein content is useful for brewing beers that benefit from turbid mashes.

The Beer: The Rare Barrel Golden Sour Ale

Spelt is a critical part of the grain bill in the Golden Sour Ale at The Rare Barrel in Berkeley, California. This beer is then used as a base for fruit, herbs, spices, and beyond. Examples are Saphir Effect that’s aged in oak barrels and dry-hopped with Saphir hops, or Apropos of Nothing, which is aged in oak barrels with elderberries and lavender. The sours at The Rare Barrel are regularly rotating, so expect new renditions of the golden sour base.


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