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19th May 2017

Selected in 1819. Back again in 2017. Chevallier Heritage Malt.

For Beer with an Authentic Taste of the Past.

In 1819 a Rev Dr John Chevalier1 from Debenham in Suffolk, selected the seeds from an ear of particularly fine barley.  He sowed them. So good were the results that he carried on propagating, and it wasn’t long before a new variety known for its excellent malting qualities had been created. It was named after him2.

For the following hundred years, Chevallier barley malt was revered for the quality of the beers it produced – and was the main type used for brewing in England. It took until the 1920s for it to be superseded by other varieties.

Now it is back again. Scientists at the John Innes Centre recently revived the Victorian variety, starting with just a handful of seeds, producing a small crop and repeating the process. The work took place as part of a project to improve contemporary barley, especially disease resistance, by looking at past varieties. Historic records showed Chevallier to produce good yields – and premium quality malt.

With the support of Crisp Maltings, propagation continued beyond the initial research. The Crisp team worked with Dr Chris Ridout of New Heritage Barley and a handful of Norfolk farmers prepared to take on the responsibility of reviving the variety.

By 2014 a 20 tonne crop of barley was produced. Five tonnes were malted by Crisp on their traditional floor maltings and the balance was reserved as seed for further regeneration.  The process was repeated in 2015 and 2016, each time allowing more of the precious grain to be allocated to malting and brewing.

Says Dr David Griggs of Crisp Maltings, “Yes, this is an exciting project for historians, crop scientists, farmers, maltsters and brewers. But it also holds appeal for any curious drinker.

“The revival of Chevallier provides an opportunity for people to sample-authentic tastes of the Victorian era.

“Brewers are researching old brewing recipes and using them to reproduce, or play tunes with, flavours of the past. Opportunities associated with Chevallier Heritage Malt are many and varied – and we’re finding brewers keen to push boundaries with the help of history.”
Interested brewers contact:



1The Rev Dr John Chevalier is an ancestor of Henry and Barry Chevallier Guild  of Aspall Cyder fame

2The spelling has evolved over the years but it is still sometimes seen as Chevalier rather than Chevallier

Chevallier is a registered conservation variety of barley maintained by New Heritage Barley

Shane Swindells from the Cheshire Brewhouse was one of the first brewers to use Chevallier Heritage Malt. He and Carl Heron, maltster and master brewer from Crisp, produced a collaborative brew made to an authentic early 1800’s recipe.  The result was Govinda, an authentic 19th century beer

For more information contact:

Frances Brace –
07432 692 309