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Brewing Malt Styles & Varieties

Views: 32     Author: alex     Publish Time: 2022-04-06      Origin:


Brewing malt is grain (usually barley) that is processed in order to convert grain starches to sugars. There are a vast number of malts that brewers can use, and there are two broad categories that various malts fall into: malts which can be steeped, and malts which need to be mashed. Specialty malts and crystal malts (you may see the latter referred to as caramel malts, which is simply a different term for the same thing) can be steeped.


Crystal/Caramel Malts


Crystal malts are steepable and they're generally used to add sweetness and color to both extract and all-grain brews. As a general rule, the lighter-colored crystal malts are more strictly 'sweet,' while darker crystal malts can add some roastiness or nuttiness in addition to sweetness. Basically, anything labeled crystal, caramel, or cara-something are crystal malts.


Roasted Malts/Dark Malts


Roasted malts are any malts or grains that are roasted to a very high degree. Any very dark (say, more than 150 Lovibond) malt is considered a roasted malt. The three most common roasted malts are: black malt (sometimes called black patent malt), chocolate malt, and roasted barley.


Roasted malts can be steeped for extract brewing or mashed for all-grain, and add a lot of complexity and color in very low quantities. Some brewers get gun shy about roasted malts, but fear not. Roasted malts are delicious, provided you don't go completely overboard: 10% (or roughly one pound in an average-gravity 5 gallon batch) is about the most you would usually use. Stay below this amount and it's hard to go wrong. Go right, and roasty, bready, biscuity, coffee-y, dark chocolate, and a host of other flavors are at your disposal.


Base Malts


Base malts make up the majority of the grist in all-grain beer. This group includes pale malt, Pilsner malt, Vienna malt, Munich malt, Mild ale malt, and more; there are also non-barley base malts like wheat malt and rye malt. The variety is frankly, astounding.


Base malts can be named based on the formation of corns on the barley stalk (2-row vs. 6-row), the barley variety or the region in which the barley was grown or malted (America, England, Moravia, etc).


American base malt is generally mild and fairly neutral; British malts tend to be maltier, bready, and biscuit-like. The European climate gives malts made from Continental barley a clean, "elegant" character. Pilsner malt has a soft, delicate maltiness that practically defines pale lagers. "High-kilned" (heated to a higher temperature at the end of the malting process) base are responsible for the dark, malty lagers of Europe and have also found a home in some ales because of their unique character. Munich and Vienna malts are the prime examples of high-kilned malts, although mild ale malt belongs to this category too. The darker color lends these malts a more toasty, malty flavor than you get from lighter base malts.


Other Malts


There are also some malts which do not come from barley: oats, rye, and wheat can be malted. These malts are essentially processed like, and can be treated as, their barley malt cousins. Caramel wheat is similar to caramel barley malts and the same for non-barley wheat base malts, and so on.





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