- Associated Press - Friday, January 6, 2017

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - Research money has been dedicated to growing better barley for beer in Kansas, which was the last state to do away with prohibition.

The Brewers Association awarded a group of brewers, researchers and agricultural experts a $35,000 grant to develop winter malting barley to be grown and harvested in the Great Plains, the Wichita Eagle (https://bit.ly/2iLXRa3 ) reported.

The project is eligible to receive annual funding for five years, depending on research progress.

Kansas is mostly known as a wheat-growing state, and much of its barley is grown as a high-protein grain for livestock feed. Barley grown for beer must be a lower-protein grain.

“We have grown varieties of winter barley in five different locations in Kansas, from all the way in the eastern part near Lawrence to out toward Quinter in western Kansas,” Free State Brewing Co. founder Chuck Magerl said. “We are testing out different varieties.”

Kansas was the first state in the country to pass a constitutional amendment in order to forbid selling and producing liquor. The state prohibited alcohol from 1881 to 1948, and continued to prohibit liquor by the drink in bars and restaurants until 1986.

One of Kansas’ most famous residents during that time, Carry Nation, was a well-known prohibitionist. Nation traveled around the state vandalizing saloons and slating people selling liquor. She eventually traveled the world to speak on prohibition until she died in 1911.

Now, the Brewers Association ranks Kansas 35th in the U.S. in number of craft breweries.

“As long as we can ensure there is a market and can produce a quality crop, it goes beyond a local element and into saying Kansas barley could show up in your favorite German beer - that’s the big-picture possibility,” Magerl said.

The barley project will be mainly coordinated out of the University of Nebraska, and Magerl is hoping to eventually get grad students involved as well.

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Information from: The Wichita (Kan.) Eagle, https://www.kansas.com

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