Outline of System


Outline of system

The Malting Barley Committee (MBC) has a tiered system of Committees in relation to its operation of the IBD Approval system. The analytical work is carried out by the  Micromalting Group (MMG): it draws on expertise for both brewing and distilling with results scrutinised separately.  Sitting between the MBC and the MMG is the MBC Working Party (WP).  In reaching their recommendations and decisions for Approval the WP and MBC take account not only of the technical assessment of malting quality but also wider commercial considerations such as whether the agronomic performance is sufficiently competitive and how the variety will compare with currently purchased varieties. (links here go to the specific groups Objectives)

Samples from BSPB National List and AHDB Recommended List trials are analysed by the Micromalting Groups to produce data using the Protocols/Procedures listed here in Appendix B. The decision on which varieties to test rests with breeders at NL1. At NL2 it is normally restricted to those varieties selected as candidates for Recommended List trials by AHDB. Varieties tested from RL1 are normally restricted to those entering their first year of recommendation by AHDB. The data are considered by the MBC Working Party (see Appendix B) on an individual year basis ie NL1, NL2 and RL1. The Micromalting Group’s assessments and recommendations are brought together, considered firstly by the MBC Working Party and subsequently by the Malting Barley Committee: the Malting Barley Committee is the ratifying or decision-making body. Three years of micromalting assessment lead to the decision on whether to award IBD Provisional Approval. The recommendations on data from the NL1 and NL2 are used to identify varieties meeting the AHDB criteria for candidate selection and provisional recommendation.

Breeders are expected to be aware of progress under both the AHDB and IBD systems such that commercial bulks should be available to maltsters from the harvest following first recommendation by AHDB: these bulks are expected to meet normal commercial specifications.  The detailed Procedure for macroscale trials can be found in Appendix B. To achieve Full Approval requires a specified number of satisfactory results in commercial maltings, breweries and/or distilleries. Approvals are dealt with separately for brewing and distilling, each requiring tonnages likely to be in excess of 1000t.  For grain distilling it is impracticable to have a macroscale distillery test so decisions are based on micromalting and macroscale malting.

It is important to understand that these macroscale tests are not under the control of the MBC. They rely on a breeder/agent allocating sufficient seed to growers to produce the required bulks that meet normal malting specifications. In most cases the breeder/agent not only makes arrangements for growing the bulk but also identifies a maltster to carry out the macroscale malting. In most cases the maltster will identify a brewer or distiller to complete the test for that specific bulk. The MBC, WP and the Secretariat have a role assisting this process, checking that breeders are aware which varieties may be needed for macroscale trials, checking what bulks have been produced, that plans are in hand for the macroscale tests and receiving the reports based on the MBC trial forms. The results from macroscale trials are evaluated by the WP and recommendations forwarded to the MBC for ratification.

Unless a new variety is assessed by the malting, brewing and distilling industries as having the potential to have a significant commercial future, then it is unlikely there will be volunteers to carry out the macroscale malting, brewing and distilling tests.  These tests are expensive to conduct and there are relatively few businesses able and willing to conduct the test and complete the reporting requirements.  Where a variety fails to complete macroscale testing within two years, it automatically fails to have a place on the IBD Approved List.   

Communicating decisions

Communication between the MBC and AHDB’s Barley and Other Crops’ Committee (BOCC) is achieved as follows:

The micromalting database is held and updated by AHDB; any revisions to the colour-coding will be recorded by the AHDB staff member attending WP and MBC meetings. This includes any changes to the colour-coding of candidates; information on candidates will also be communicated by an extract from the draft minutes of the WP and MBC covering the candidates. Those who sit on both the WP/MBC and BOCC should be prepared to provide supporting explanation.

Decisions on progress within the IBD Approval system are published in a press note normally issued just prior to Cereals. The AHDB staff member attending the MBC should communicate information on those varieties exiting the IBD Approval system.


The appeal system is against a recommendation of the Working Party: The MBC considers the appeal and has the final decision.

It provides those responsible for a variety with the opportunity to ask the MBC to give further thought to any downgrading recommendation of the WP.

A representative from BSPB’s Secretariat will be invited to attend the WP meeting. Data summaries arising from the MMG will be sent to BSPB ahead of the WP meeting so breeders have an opportunity to flag up issues with the BSPB representative.

WP meeting not immediately preceding the MBC

BSPB are sent an extract of the unapproved minutes of the WP meeting. BSPB are responsible for sending information to all breeders and agents. A breeder/agent would have the opportunity to forward a single page to the MBC giving reason why the recommendation of the WP should be changed for their variety. This would be considered by the MBC, and the resulting decision regarded as final.

WP meeting immediately preceding the MBC

During the interval for lunch, or earlier if possible, the BSPB representative should inform the breeders where the WP recommendation would result in a downgrading of a variety’s status in the IBD system ie:

A recommendation not to progress a variety as a result of unsatisfactory or insufficient macroscale trials;

A recommendation not to award Provisional Approval to a recent AHDB recommendation based on micromalting data, normally from three years;

Recommendation to downgrade to a red colour rating (brewing and/or distilling) for this year’s candidates (based on NL2 and NL1 micromalting data);

Recommendation to award a red colour rating (B &/or D) for varieties that may become next year’s candidates (based on NL1 micromalting data).

Breeders must indicate immediately if they wish to appeal and follow this up quickly with a short written case transmitted by email to the BSPB Secretariat representative.  

The appeal must indicate whether the breeder is questioning a recommendation on technical grounds or seeking to challenge the WP’s commercial interpretation of the results. At the subsequent MBC meeting, the BSPB Secretariat representative should register any appeals and present the brief summary of the reasoning behind the appeal.

Where a variety has been downgraded to red, it means that the WP does not consider the variety is technically of further interest to the UK malting, brewing and distilling industries; the appeal should not be based on agronomic or other considerations.

Appeals will be considered by the MBC, and the resulting decisions regarded as final.

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