Barley drinks are common in this part of the world to combat fatigue and dehydration in the summer, even stretching back to olden days, when farmers would crush barley with sugar to make a healthy and replenishing drink.
Now, however, many companies produce such drinks and they are easily available in the market. One of the oldest such companies is Murree Brewery, which has produced barley malt for the last century.
Murree Brewery was opened in Ghora Gali by the British in 1860, and its Rawalpindi production unit was established in 1886. The brewery opened to meet the beer requirements of British personnel, but after partition in 1947 it also started producing food and non-alcoholic beverages under the name Tops.
The brewery produces three types of non-alcoholic barley malt. It imports the barley from Australia, after which three separate units are involved to manufacture the beverage itself.
When it enters the production unit, the barley is in raw grain form and the grains have to be cleaned using a machine. This machine removes dust, rocks and pieces of metal, after which the grains are washed.
Now clean, the grains are placed in a machine that allows germination, which activates enzymes that convert the raw starch in the grain. After three days in the machine, the grains are transferred into a tank and boiled.
“We add sugar and flavour to the barley drink in this machine, and it becomes the best, healthy energy drink,” Murree Brewery manager Farasat Kazmi said.
After this, production is completed, and the drinks are packed in glass bottles, he said. The entire process of making the drinks is carried out with machinery, Mr Kazmi said, which workers are responsible for maintaining and checking the operations of repeatedly.
Many workmen are involved in the process of making the drinks, he said, and it is the art of the owner to finally sell it. The demand for barley malt increases in the summer because it is a traditional energy drink.
Mr Kazmi said separate units are installed in the brewery for non-alcoholic drinks - the process for these is different, he said, but barley is the main ingredient.
He added that the brewery ensures the product’s quality throughout the process; no artificial flavourings are used to make the drinks, because it is not possible for them to mix with the barley. Quality testing is carried out before the process begins and after they have finished making the malt, he said.
The barley waste can be used as food for milch animals, and is sold to milkmen as fodder, he said.
Published in Dawn, September 2nd, 2018