update on my progress....
Got an 1 oz Lacey barley seed packet from Sustainable Seed Co., grew it this spring, just finished harvesting it, got about one+ pound of good grain. I'll plant about half my garden with it next spring.
Also got 5# of Robust seed from Fedco. The other half of the garden.
So, next year is good. Both are spring-grown barley's.
One thing that has baffled me - the availability of barley strains is very limited or virtually unknown. I've only found maybe 1/2 dozen known strains that one can buy online. Most of seed offered is by commercial/farmer supply sources, and when you ask, they have no idea what strain it is. I don't buy into the "barley is barley, it all makes good brew". I understand that each strain is what's been developed for particular areas, based on climate, soil, insect and disease resistance. Most of the data available requires an AG or horticulture degree to understand.
From internet research, there are over 2,000 strains that have been grown in the USA. But to find info and sources is nearly impossible, let alone what would be good for home gardens, or paricular unique beers.
I did find that I can get seeds from NPGS/GRIN. http://www.ars-grin.gov/npgs/acc/acc_queries.html This is the national seed bank, who periodically regrow the accession to keep viable seed available, primarily for institutional, universities, or research facilities. While they will make seed available to individuals, it is very limited, and will be cut off if demand is excessive. I did get a 10 gram packet (~140 seeds) of Maris Otter (PI 410858). The original accession is from the UK, 1976. I figure it will take me about 3 years of successive growth to have enough seed for a good crop.
Oh, yeah, I know....I can buy malted barley for half of what it will probably cost to grow-my-own, then there is all the effort into planting, growing, harvesting, threshing, winnowing, drying, malting etc. But it is a "I did it my way" thingy, and I can truely say it is 100% home brew, in every way.