Before brewing can begin, barley kernels must be 'malted', explained the ARS. Malting begins with steeping the kernels in water until the seeds begin to sprout, or germinate. This process helps cue production of enzymes that are crucial for turning starch into sugar. In nature, the young seed needs this sugar for energy to grow. In malting, brewers need it for fermentation.
The article then explains that by creating a new barley enzyme that can yield up to 30 percent more sugar thereby being more efficient. This new barley enzyme was built based on the enzymes of a sugar beet the most efficient model the scientists could find. This article raises some interesting questions for me. I have written about organic beers a few times in the past regarding the growth of this trend. But how bout the opposite direction...what about custom beers? Would we all buy beers that were made of custom created barley, or how about hops that generated a certain amount of bitterness and grassy flavor with none of it being created by nature?