2023 marks BMBRI’s 75th anniversary!! BMBRI was formally known as the Barley Improvement Institute and was incorporated in May of 1948 in Winnipeg, Manitoba. At the time of incorporation, the Barley Improvement Institute’s mandate was similar to BMBRI’s today and directed to improving malting barley through research grants and the dissemination of information.

The Barley Improvement Institute also led the National Barley Contest which was started as an emergency action to improve the quality of barley. During the war the government set a ceiling price for barley regardless of quality and this resulted in the majority of barley going to feed with little focus on quality. Quality malt barley fell from 60% of all Canadian barley before the war to only 2.5% in 1945.

T.J. Harrison, Director of the Barley Improvement Institute and V.M. Bendelow inspect a sample of wort while Miss M.V. Sabey removes solutions from constant temperature bath.

To further support the development of new barley varieties, the Barley Improvement Institute established a lab in 1957 to perform routine quality prediction tests. It was at this time that the Institute was renamed the Brewing and Malting Barley Research Institute to reflect its new role in the evaluation of cultivars.

In 1996 the Prairie Recommending Committee for Oats and Barley (PRCOB) made the decision to no longer require plant scale testing for malt barley quality and the lab ceased its operations.

BMBRI has been involved in bringing researchers and the malting and brewing industry together since its inception. The BMBRI Triennial Meeting is a long-standing event that has recently been hosted in collaboration with the Canadian Barley Symposium.

Triennial Barley Improvement Meeting Beaverlodge, Alberta
July 23, 24, 2968
Photograph of Participants

1. Dr. M.L. Kaufmann, Lacombe
2. Mr. F.M. Gauthier, Quebec (kneeling)
3. Dr. K.W. Buchannon, Winnipeg
4. Dr. L.P.V. Johnson, Edmonton
5. Mr. J.N. Tingle, Prince George
6. Mr. R.B. MacLaren, Charlottetown
7. Dr. E. Reinbergs, Guelph
8. Mr. E.K. Coutts, Calgary
9. Dr. H.M. Austenson, Saskatoon
10. Dr. D.J. Lubert, Toronto
11. Dr. W.H. Johnston, Brandon

12. Mr. D.W. Elliott, Winnipeg
13. Mr. W. Sisler, Winnipeg
14. Mr. J.E. Fitzsimmons, Edmonton
15. Dr. B.L. Harvey, Saskatoon
16. Mr. A.G. Kusch, Beaverlodge
17. Mr. A.D. McFadden, Lacombe
18. Dr. D.G. Faris, Beaverlodge
19. Dr. S.B. Helgason, Winnipeg
20. Dr. S.A. Wells, Lethbridge
21. Dr. D.R. Metcalfe, Winnipeg

BMBRI’s long history in the malting and brewing industry speaks to the importance of pre-competitive research investment as a way to maintain a supply of high-quality malting barley. There have been changes over the years but the mandate of the BMBRI has stood the test of time!!

For more details on the history of history of BMBRI please see the following publication: Work of the Barley Improvement Institute in Canada.