Barley and Beer: What grows together, goes together

Food and drink writers have long promoted the idea of terroir-driven food and drink matches. The concept of pairing local food and drink can be viewed from a cultural perspective. In classic old-world beer regions, many theorize the style of drink (and food) has been modified over the centuries to harmonize with the food of the region, and vice versa.

It’s a sort of a food and drink evolutionary tale of flavour combinations. Others view the relationship from a more agrarian point of view. It only makes sense to drink and eat ingredients grown and made in the same area.

With the rise of artisanal craft-brewed beer in Nova Scotia, along with an ever growing locavore movement, it shouldn’t be surprising that we are beginning to promote the relationship of craft beer and Canadian and locally grown barley. Recently, the Barley Council of Canada, under their GoBarley Brand, have taken to promoting the relationship between local beer and dishes made from barley, including some recently hosted grower-to-glass food and beer tasting events.

A big launch forward for the local industry has been the opening of Horton Malt & Grain Company as they provide local breweries the opportunity of making 100 per cent Nova Scotia grown and made beer. According to Neil Campbell, the local representative for the Barley Council of Canada, “we hope to see more locally produced barley being used in local beer production. What that amount would be depends on research on developing newer and better quality varieties for farmers to grow and the malt companies to process.

“Consumers are increasingly interested in where and how the ingredients in their favourite foods and beverages are grown.”

The Barley Council of Canada (BCC), under their GoBarley brand, recently launched its Grower to Glass program which Campbell says “The Barley Council of Canada and the Canadian beer industry see this trend as an opportunity to celebrate the role of our world class barley as the key natural ingredient in our great Canadian beer.”

According to Campbell, “the BCC continues to work with our members, including Beer Canada, to bring value to barley farmers and the barley value chain (in this case brewers) across the country. We are always open to new opportunities, and are eager to hear from local brewers with ideas as to how we can continue to work together to further the local beer industry.”

For now, let’s have a glass of locally crafted beer and food made with barley.
Barley Chanterelle


Chef Michael Smith, 2016

This savoury porridge is richly flavoured and delightfully chewy. It’s the perfect hearty side dish for any meat or fish. It’s based on barley, a tough little whole grain that easily softens through simmering and just as easily absorbs whatever other flavours you throw at it — I like mushrooms. Wild mushrooms in particular. During the season on Prince Edward Island, I love stirring wild golden chanterelles into this creamy porridge. Feel free to make it any time though with any mushroom. Barley always works!

Barley Chanterelle


Serves 4 to 6
1/4 cup (60 mL) of butter

1 large onion, minced

4 cloves of garlic, minced

1 cup (250 mL) of white wine

1 pound (450 g) or more of wild chanterelle mushrooms or your favourite tame supermarket mushrooms

1 cup (250 mL) of barley

4 cups (1,000 mL) of water

1 teaspoon (5 mL) of salt

Lots of freshly ground pepper

1 cup (250 mL) of heavy cream

½ cup (125 mL) of minced fresh thyme, rosemary, sage or tarragon

Directions: Melt the butter in a large heavy saucepot over medium-high heat until it sizzles. Toss in the onions and garlic and stir until they’re lightly browned and fragrant, three or four minutes. Add the wine and reduce briefly. Add the mushrooms and stir until they release their moisture and begin simmering, five minutes or so. Stir in the barley and water. Season with salt and pepper. Bring the works to the simmer and continue cooking over low heat until the barley is tender and delicious, about 45 minutes. Finish by stirring in the cream and your choice of fresh herb. Bring back to the simmer and serve immediately or continue stirring and cooking until the porridge is as thick as you like.


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