MSU professor revives 100-year-old barley for Michigan craft beer

A Michigan State professor dug into the university’s agriculture archives to revive a 100-year-old barley seed called Spartan barley. Spartan barley was developed by Frank Spragg, a plant breeder at the Michigan Agricultural College, known today as Michigan State University. Originally developed as a Michigan-indigenous barley strain for Michigan brewers, many breweries in the state used this barley strain in the early 1900’s.  

But when prohibition was voted in, brewing halted. That is until Russell Freed, MSU’s doctor of crop science, decided to revive the strain. “I got in touch with the USDA germplasm curator for barley in Idaho, Aberdeen Idaho,” Freed said, “and he sent me five grams of Spartan barley.”