The analytical work is carried out by the Micromalting Group (MMG): it draws on expertise for both brewing and distilling and makes recommendations based on the technical micro-malting data. See Protocols & Procedures for a detailed description.


  1. To produce barley and micromalting data on the potential of new barley varieties for use in the malting, brewing and distilling industries.
  2. To examine the data, correct errors and remove outliers that might damage the integrity of the database, including judging whether the grain nitrogen % content and germination data are within a commercially acceptable range.
  3. To compare the performance against chosen controls in order to make recommendations to the MBC on suitability for malting, brewing and distilling.
  4. To revise the analytical protocol as needed and maintain a degree of uniformity across labs.

The system
Samples from BSPB National List and AHDB Recommended List trials are analysed by the Micromalting Group to produce data using the Protocols/Procedures listed in Appendix B. The Protocol is revised when appropriate at the MMG meeting and checked for uniformity across laboratories using standard samples analysed by all laboratories, if thought appropriate.

The decision on which varieties to test rests with breeders at VL1. At VL2 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. Controls are selected to provide comparison and continuity using the National List controls; occasionally an additional control is needed. Sample selection is co-ordinated by AHDB both in respect of sites and varieties. Trial site managers are instructed by AHDB in the selection of sites, varieties, sample handling and submission to the selected testing laboratory.

Micromalting data from the co-operating labs are submitted to AHDB for processing after preliminary checking by the Chair or deputy. The data is issued ahead of the annual MMG meeting (normally April) so that labs can recheck their data.

The data sheets use various statistical techniques to identify outliers; these may be lab results which differ from results from other labs or a variety result that differs from other results for the same variety. It is important to check whether differences in lab results are based on samples from the same site or samples from different sites. At the MMG, outliers are considered and where appropriate deleted from the database.

The corrected data are then rerun to produce revised summary sheets. The MMG uses the revised summaries to rank test varieties:

GREEN (better than controls)

AMBER (as good as controls),

RED (not as good as controls).

The means for key characters are examined against the controls and colour-coded. To facilitate this task, the table is presented in descending order of Hot Water Extract for brewing, and descending order of Predicted Spirit Yield for distilling. The MMG needs to decide and minute which site controls are used for this evaluation. There may not be any relevant controls for varieties under consideration for special use, but these varieties may still be classified as amber by the MMG.

N.B. VL1 data sets receive division into only amber or red categories.

Once the key characteristics have been colour-coded, the varieties are given separate GREEN, AMBER or RED rankings for brewing, malt, distilling and special use.

The revised means with the MMG recommended colour-coding for brewing and distilling potential, together with the minutes form part of the Agenda at the subsequent meeting of the MBC; these are presented by the Chair or Deputy Chair of the MMG.

The revised means form the data-set on which discussions and decisions are based. Once the revised data-set has been cleared by the Chair or Deputy Chair, a copy should be sent to BSPB ahead of the MBC meeting.

See Appeals below

The source data providing results from individual lab results will not be divulged; that is part of the agreement between MBC and the firms/contributing labs. A breeder may ask AHDB or the appropriate MMG Chair to recheck the source data ahead of the MBC meeting.

Data summaries and MMG recommended rankings are sent to BSPB ahead of the summer MBC meeting. Communication between the MBC and AHDB’s Barley and Other Crops’ Committee (BOOCC) 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 the MBC meeting. This includes any changes to the colour-coding of candidates. Those who sit on both the MBC and BOOCC should be prepared to provide supporting explanation. The BSPB Secretariat representative attending the MBC should communicate information on those varieties exiting the IBD Approval system or any other decisions involving demotion.

Decisions on progress within the MBC Approval system are published in a press release and circulated to appropriate stakeholders.

BSPB are responsible for passing MMG summaries and recommendations to the breeders. If a breeder wishes to query either the data or the recommendation, he should contact the Chair of the MMG. If it is a data issue, the Chair should check the source data, review what was done by the MMG, respond to the breeder and inform the MBC if a revision should be made. If the breeder is unhappy with the response, he should ‘appeal’ to the MBC, providing a short rationale for his appeal ahead of the MBC meeting, to both the MBC secretary and the BSPB representative. Queries about recommendation follow a similar path. The Chair should check for consistency the summary on which the recommendation was based, respond to the breeder and inform the MBC if a revision should be made.  If the breeder is unhappy with the response, he should appeal to the MBC, providing a short rationale ahead of the MBC meeting to both the MBC secretary and the BSPB representative.  Appeals against the MMG dataset or recommendations will be taken by the MBC before discussion leading to MBC decisions. The MBC’s decision on these appeals will be final.

For Appeals against other MBC decisions, a small group (at least three) will be nominated at the start of the MBC meeting.  These members may contribute to the initial discussions but must not participate in the actual decision-making process. The Appeal Group will be chaired by someone who is technically knowledgeable, normally the Chair or Deputy Chair of the MMG.  The other two members should ideally be drawn from non-voting members of the MBC.

MBC decisions leading to a downgrade in a variety’s progress should be reported to the breeder by the BSPB Secretariat representative early in the lunch break. The BSPB representative may give guidance to the breeder on the factors/discussion leading to that decision. If the breeder wishes to appeal, a short rationale for the appeal should be emailed back to the BSPB Secretariat representative in time for the appeal to be presented to the Appeal group for consideration after the lunch break.

The normal grounds for appeal are INCONSISTENCY or FAILURE TO CONSIDER ADEQUATELY THE INFORMATION AVAILABLE TO THE MBC.  If the appeal is of a technical or commercial nature it will be referred back to the next meeting of the MBC.  The decisions of the Appeal group will be final.