Grain Basics
Saturday, October 21, 2017
   
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Grain Basics

So you've decided to make the move to all grain brewing. Now you want to know what all these different grains are used for. While you can make a great beer using just Pale Malt there are a lot of different styles of beer out there that use different grains to achieve a certain flavour profile.

Malt gives beer its flavour, colour, body, head retention and alcohol content. Although other grains can be malted, barley is the preferred source of fermentable extract.

Barley in its natural state cannot be "mashed". The malting process breaks down the starches contained in the barley husk into their component parts and renders them convertible to fermentable sugars by the naturally occurring enzymes collectively known as diastase.

The first step in malting is to steep the barley in tanks of cool water until the grains have absorbed the maximum amount of moisture. The next step is to spread the barley over the "malting floor" where germination takes place.

The malted barley is now transferred to a kiln where it is first dried and then roasted. The differing moisture contents, kiln temperatures and kiln times provide the maltster with the means to produce many different types of malt which in turn enable the brewer to make his own individual beers as simple or as complex as he wishes.

There is a scale for determining the colour of malt and beer, which is used throughout Europe. The colour is measured in EBC units, where the lowest rating is the palest colour. From the very palest Pilsner Malt at 2.5 EBC to Roasted Barley and Black Malt at anything up to 1500 EBC, there are a vast number of ways to reach the desired beer colour. Only the palest malts, however, contain the enzymes necessary for starch conversion. The bulk of any beer recipe must consist of these malts. The diastatic power of each malt is shown as the maximum percentage that is recommended in the grist.

A note on colour - you may see recipes that contain a malt expressed in °Lovibond, for example Crystal 40L. In the US colour is expressed in terms of the Standard Research Method (SRM) values or in °Lovibond, which is essentially equivalent.

The formula °EBC = (°L X 2.65) - 1.2 gives a reasonably accurate translation to °Lovibond values.

 

Malted Barley


GRAIN

ORIGIN

DESCRIPTION

MAX %

EBC

PILSNER MALT

Germany, Belgium, Czech

Usually produced from German, Belgian and Czech barley, Pilsner malt can be used on its own, provided the pH of the mash is correct, or in combination with other grains to produce the classic Continental lager beers. The malt is kilned slowly from 50°C to 60°C to completely dry it before it is toasted at 80°C. The inclusion of a small amount (3% - 5%) of acid malt is highly recommended when brewing Pilsners.

100%

2.5

MARIS OTTER EXTRA PALE

UK

Kilning is stopped early to produce this very light coloured pale malt, suitable for light-bodied summer ales.

100%

2.5

LAGER MALT

UK

Lager malt is the British version of Pilsner malt. It is kilned at slightly higher temperatures, from 55°C to 82°C, and can be substituted for Pilsner malt if that is unavailable. Again, the inclusion of acid malt is desirable.

100%

3

ACID MALT

Germany

Acid malt is a very useful adjunct for producing high class Lagers. It contains lactic acid, which lowers the mash pH, giving a softer palate than if gypsum is used. The inclusion of a small percentage of this malt is recommended for all pale lagers.

10%

3

CARAPILS

Germany

Produced from Bavarian spring barley, this malt is produced by loading the modified grains into a sealed kiln while the moisture content is still around 50%. The grains are then heated to between 65°C and 80°C, which enables them to mash themselves and caramelise the resulting sugars. The final kilning is at around 110°C for just long enough to dry the grain without undue darkening. When used in lager beers, Carapils promotes head formation and retention and gives the beer a fuller rounder flavour. As the starches have already been converted during malting, this malt is ideal for use by extract brewers.

10%

3-5

PALE MALT

UK

Pale malt is the basis of all British ales. Several varieties of barley are used with Maris Otter being the most highly prized, although Halcyon, Optic and the newcomer, Pearl, are also excellent malting barleys. Also available is the legendary Golden Promise, which has its own unique character. Experimentation is strongly advised, as the subtle differences between pale malts are difficult to put into words. British pale malt is kilned very dry at temperatures between 95°C and 105°C.

100%

4-5

RAUCHMALZ - SMOKED

Germany

Probably the rarest malt of all, Rauchmalz is only produced in Bamberg, Germany and is used to brew that town's world famous Rauchbier. The kilning of this malt takes place over open fires made of beech wood logs. The phenols released from the wood permeate the malt and give it its smoky taste and aroma. Besides making Rauchbier, this unique malt can add interesting flavour notes to a wide variety of beer styles. It is particularly effective in Brown Ales and Porters which were traditionally brewed with traditional brown malt, also kilned over open fires but no longer available.

100%

3-6

MILD ALE MALT

UK

Mild malt is kilned slightly hotter than pale malt to give a fuller flavour. We strongly recommend the use of this malt to obtain the luscious sweetness evident in the best Mild Ales.

100%

6

PALE MALT

Belgium

Belgian pale malt gives a more significant malt flavour and a darker colour than the British equivalent due to its different production method. Kilning takes place at a lower temperature (85°C to 90°C) but is continued for longer in order to obtain the correct colour. Brewers of Belgian ales should always use this malt for authenticity.

100%

7

VIENNA MALT

Germany

Vienna malt forms the basis for the famous Märzen and Oktoberfest beers, whose characteristics are a golden colour and full malt flavour. Caramelisation is not required for this malt so it is dried fairly cool before being roasted at around lO5°C.

100%

6-8

MUNICH MALT

Germany/Belgium

As the name suggests, this malt is used to brew the famous rich, sweet beers associated with Munich. It can, however, be used in small quantities to enhance the maltiness in other beer styles. Many Belgian ales contain this malt and even some of the more adventurous British breweries are experimenting with it. Munich Malt is kilned while the moisture content is still quite high (about 20%). The gradual raising of the temperature to around 1OO°C allows for some caramelisation.

100% (although rarely used at over 80%)

15-25

CARAHELL

Germany

This malt is mainly used to accentuate the fullness of flavour in special German festival beers, although it is unsurpassed as a flavour booster in low alcohol lagers. Produced in the same way as Carapils but kilned off slightly hotter. Greatly increases head formation and retention.

40% (Higher in low alcohol beers)

2-30

BRITISH CARAMALT

UK

The palest of all crystal malts, this grain is used when a crystal character is required without unduly darkening the beer. Particularly suitable for pale ales and bitters.

20%

30-40

CARA RED

Germany

A new malt from Weyermann in Bamberg. Use to add body and increase malt aroma in many beer styles. Provides greater depth of colour and a reddish hue.

10%

40-60

DIASTATIC AMBER MALT

Belgium

This unique grain is the palest of all roasted malts.It is roasted at a lower temperature to preserve the diastatic enzymes. Although produced in Belgium, it is Indispensable when recreating historic English beers.

80%

50-60

CARA AMBER

Germany

A new malt from Weyermann in Bamberg. Improves flavour stability and promotes fuller body. Provides deep red colour. An interesting addition for all amber and dark beers.

20%

60-80

PALE CRYSTAL MALT

UK

This light version of the British classic is ideal for increasing body and fullness while preserving a pale colour. Unsurpassed in Bitter beers and Pale Ales for adding subtle sweetness to balance the customary high hop rate. Crystal malt is produced in much the same manner as Carapils except that kilning is prolonged until the desired colour is reached.

20%

80-140

MELANOIDIN MALT

Germany

Malt flavour is defined by melanoidins, compounds formed by non enzymatic browning of malt sugars and low molecular weight proteins during the kilning process. Munich malt and Belgian aromatic malt are quite high in melanoidins, but for a high malt profile this very special malt is unsurpassed. This aromatic malt from Bamberg, Germany produces flavours similar to those from decoction mashes. Melanoidin malt promotes fullness of flavour and rounds off beer colour. It can be used to good effect in all medium to dark beers, especially Munich style lagers. Experimentation is strongly advised.

15%

60-80

CARAMÜNCH

Germany

A very special and rare malt only produced in Bamberg in northern Bavaria. It is made in a similar way to Munich Malt except that caramelisation is allowed to progress further and kilning is conducted at higher temperatures. Although only used in small quantities, it has a marked effect on the fullness of flavour and aroma in golden to brown lager beers and ales.

10%

80-100

AMBER MALT

UK

Amber is a very rare British Malt. The grain is dried to about 3% moisture and then heated quickly to above 95°C. The temperature is then raised slowly to around l40°C where it is held until the correct colour is achieved. An interesting alternative to crystal malt in bitters and outstanding in dark ales, especially Porters.

20%

50-90

CRYSTAL MALT

UK

The classic British body builder and a British invention. Unsurpassed in Bitter beers for adding subtle sweetness to balance the customary high hop rate. Crystal malt is produced in much the same manner as Carapils except that kilning is prolonged until the desired colour is reached. Crystal malts cover a wide range of colours but in the UK the usual level is around 120 EBC.

20%

80-140

BROWN MALT

UK

Although not produced in the traditional manner (wood smoked), this malt can be used in old recipes calling for brown malt, especially if used with a proportion of rauchmalz. Brown malt can also add complexity to styles such as porter and old ale.

20%

140-160

AROMATIC MALT

Belgium

Aromatic malt provides a very strong malt flavour and aroma. Although not a roasted malt, it is kilned at close to the maximum possible temperature of 115°C until the desired colour is obtained. Perfect for any beer in which a high malt profile is required and can be used in fairly high quantities as some diastatic power is retained.

20%

150-160

DARK CRYSTAL MALT

UK

A very dark crystal malt which has undergone a substantially extended kilning. Use in beers that require a deep copper colour without too much crystal character, or in porter and old ale.

20%

230-250

SPECIAL B

Belgium

Special B is produced in the same way as other Belgian caramel malts except that it undergoes a second roasting. Its profile is that of a cross between dark caramel malt and medium roasted malt. The resultant distinctive flavour and aroma enhances many Belgian classics, but could also add interesting flavours to British ales, especially milds, brown ales etc. An interesting usage is to blend Rauchmalz with Special B (60/40) to emulate the flavour of the traditional English brown malt, traditionally kilned over open fires.

10%

250-300

LIGHT CHOCOLATE MALT

UK

A highly roasted malt which when used in small quantities imparts a rich chocolate flavour to such beers as Brown Ales and Porters. Can also be used to darken Bitters if used carefully.

5%

600

CHOCOLATE MALT

UK

A highly roasted malt which when used in small quantities imparts a rich chocolate flavour to such beers as Brown Ales and Porters. Can also be used to darken Bitters if used carefully

5%

800

ROASTED CARAMALT DE-HUSKED - CARAFA SPECIAL I

Germany

Produced in Bamberg, Germany by Weyermann, this exclusive malt is produced from de-husked barley which greatly reduces the harshness usually associated with highly roasted grains, while retaining the required colour, aroma and body. Use for dark lagers and as an alternative to chocolate malt in all beers.

5%

800

ROASTED CARAMALT DE-HUSKED - CARAFA SPECIAL 3

Germany

Produced in Bamberg, Germany by Weyermann, this exclusive malt is produced from de-husked barley which greatly reduces the harshness usually associated with highly roasted grains, while retaining the required colour, aroma and body. Use for dark lagers and as an alternative to black malt or roasted barley in all beers.

5%

1200

BLACK MALT

UK

This is produced by roasting British pale malt as far as possible without burning. It is the preferred darkener in sweeter Stouts and Porters and can be used for minor colour adjustments in other beers.

10%

1400

 

Other Malted Grains

GRAIN

ORIGIN

DESCRIPTION

MAX %

EBC

MALTED OATS

UK

Oats are extremely difficult to malt and to crush efficiently but their contribution to the flavour of certain speciality ales is significant. Oats are rich in oils and tend to promote a velvety texture in beer. Although many old recipes called for large quantities of malted oats, it is recommended they should be used with caution.

5%

2

PALE WHEAT MALT

UK

Wheat is a difficult grain to malt as it has no husk to protect the delicate acrospire. It has, however, many beneficial properties for the brewer to take advantage of. It is generally used only in top fermented beers, especially the Bavarian Weissbiers, but can be used to enhance roundness of flavour and head formation in most beer styles.

70%

3-4

DARK WHEAT MALT

Germany

Not particularly dark in colour but richer in flavour than the standard Wheat malt. It is only produced in Germany and is used for Weissbiers, Kölsch, Alt and some other top fermented beers. Could be incorporated into many British style recipes, particularly those low in alcohol.

70%

15-17

DARK WHEAT MALT

Germany

Not particularly dark in colour but richer in flavour than the standard Wheat malt. It is only produced in Germany and is used for Weissbiers, Kölsch, Alt and some other top fermented beers. Could be incorporated into many British style recipes, particularly those low in alcohol.

70%

15-17

CRYSTAL WHEAT MALT

Germany

A very rare malt from Bavaria, this is in effect crystal malt made from wheat. It can be used in all German style top fermenting beers to increase the fullness of body and intensify the wheat malt aroma.

15%

100-120

CHOCOLATE WHEAT MALT

UK

Roasted to a very high colour, this is only used for top fermented ales such as Alt and dark Wheat Beers. Even in very small quantities it intensifies the beer's aroma as well as its colour:

2%

800

PALE RYE MALT

UK

Use alongside crystal and roasted rye malts to brew the classic German top-fermented rye beer " Roggenbier" or in smaller quantities to add interesting flavours to other ales.

50%

4-6

CRYSTAL RYE MALT

UK

A very recent addition to the range of malts available to the home brewer. Strongly flavoured and distinctive. Use sparingly in dark beers or be a bit more generous in German Roggenbier.

10% (more for a strong rye flavour)

100-120

ROASTED RYE MALT

UK

Although rye is a very difficult grain to malt, its unique flavour makes it a must for your grain store. It can be used in conjunction with pale rye and wheat malt to make Bavarian Roggenbier or used to increase the complexity of flavour in many other top fermenting styles. Experimentation is strongly advised.

3%

800

 

Unmalted Grains (Adjuncts)

Most unmalted grains are best used in flaked form. The flakes are produced by first cooking the raw grains in water until the starches have been gelatinised. They are then dried and passed through rollers to flatten them. The enzymes contained in the malt can then easily convert the starch.

GRAIN

DESCRIPTION

MAX %

FLAKED RICE The perfect substitute for any recipe calling for the addition of sugar. It is virtually flavourless but provides some body without darkening the colour. A highly recommended adjunct as its low nitrogen content assists in clearing.

10%

FLAKED BARLEY Flaked barley is a versatile adjunct, particularly useful in Stouts. It imparts a lovely grainy flavour and can be used in quite large quantities in black beers. Flaked barley can, however cause haze problems in paler styles, where the percentage should not exceed 5%.

20%

TORREFIED WHEAT Available whole and flaked, this grain is used extensively to promote head retention in Bitters. Its use is definitely recommended in all recipes where a good firm head is required. Ideal for brewing Belgian Witbier .

10% (or up to 40% for Witbier)

ROASTED BARLEY This is simply raw barley, which has been roasted as far as possible to make the darkest of all grains. Its slightly bitter burnt taste finds favour in Irish type Stouts but it can be used sparingly to darken other beers.

10%

FLAKED MAIZE Derived from corn kernels, this cereal gives a delicate corn taste to beer if used sparingly. Its use is beneficial for clearing purposes due to its low nitrogen content.

10%

FLAKED OATS An easy to use alternative to malted oats. Use for oatmeal stout and sparingly in Belgian witbier.

10%

The above tables have been reproduced from information kindly provided by Clive Donald of Brupaks, suppliers of quality ingredients and equipment to good homebrew shops. You can visit their site for the latest information and products on http://www.brupaks.com All of the grains listed above can be ordered through stockists of Brupaks products.

 

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