Wisconsin farmers up barley crops for craft beer

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MONROE, Wis. (AP) -- Wisconsin farmers have increased barley production in an effort to produce a higher volume for the state's craft beer industry.

The Wisconsin State Journal reports that the important beer ingredient is beginning to be grown specifically for local brews. If barley is as successful as homegrown hops have been in Wisconsin, it could create a mutually beneficially relationship for farmers, craft breweries and conscious beer drinkers who want local ingredients.

Wisconsin used to be a major producer of barley, but farmers eventually shifted to corn and soybeans. Most of the barley that's still produced in the state is used for cattle feed.

But a Door County UW Extension agent says Wisconsin grown barley for beer is as geographically strategic as the production of grapes for wine. He says the local environment affects flavor characteristics in a unique way.

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