There will be jubilation among farmers as well as brewers at an award from the All Party Parliamentary Beer Group. It was the Lifetime Achievement Award, presented jointly to grain merchants Tony Banham and Robin Appel at the Group’s annual dinner in Westminster.
The cause for celebration is the profile given by parliamentarians to malting barley in general, Maris Otter malting barley in particular – and the two merchants who rescued the renowned variety. It’s not often that barley gets a look in when beer is discussed.
Having championed Maris Otter since the 1960s Robin Appel and Tony Banham bought the rights to the variety back in 2000 knowing that it needed lots of work to bring it back to its former glory. Over the years they have determinedly improved its quality and promoted its use among craft brewers. They were championing this grain before interest in quality ingredients in food and drink soared and long before the craft beer movement really took off.
This is the 50th anniversary year of Maris Otter: quite an achievement given that most barley varieties last just five or six years before being superseded. It’s just a small part of the overall barley market, yet the majority of the last 14 Champion Beers of Britain have been brewed with Maris Otter malt.
Robin and Tony were presented with the prestigious award by Andrew Griffiths MP, chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Beer Group, who praised them for their vision and tenacity.
“For too long any discussion on beer ingredients has focussed on hops,” says Robin, “so the award by the All Party Parliamentary Beer Group is hugely appreciated.”
Tony agrees, adding, “The real credit goes to the farmers who do such a great job of producing such high quality crops. And of course the maltsters and the brewers who are responsible for all those outstanding Maris Otter beers…”