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Malt is one of the four main ingredients in beer. Malt is where most of the flavor and sugars will be derived from. The color of malt is described in degrees Lovibond (°L). You can get malt in grain form or get malt extracts in dry or liquid form. The malting process consists of wetting the grain and allowing it to germinate. During the germination, some of the starches in the grain get converted to sugars while others become simple soluble starches and other enzymes. The grain is then dried and tumbled to knock the beginnings of roots off. The grain is then kilned to dry it thoroughly and carmelize some of the sugars like in crystal malt or blacken it like a black patent malt. The malt is now ready to be made into sweet wort by the home brewer. Using all grains instead of extracts gives the brewer greater control over the end result. Breiss Malting Company has some very nice malt data worth looking at.

Base malts

2 row pale malt - AKA Klages. A grain that has 2 rows along the seed head. 2 row malt has more starch per unit of weight than 6 row. 2L

6 row - A grain that has 6 rows along the seed head. There is more husk weight in 6 row than in 2 row. 2L

Pilsner - A pale malt with a sweeter flavor than 2 row malt. It produces a smoother and less grainy flavored beer. 1L

Wheat - The malt used for many wheat beers. Can be added to non wheat beers in small quantities to add to the head retention properties. 1.8-2.8L

Specialty malts

These malts add color, flavor and body to your brew. The benefits of these malts can be seen in extract brewing, but really shine in all grain brewing.

Carapils - Used for head retention and stability. Does not change the color or flavor. 1.5L

Honey malt - Adds a sweet, toasted and nutty flavor. 25L

Munich - Increases body, aroma, and malt sweetness. Will not add sugars unless mashed. 10L

Rauch - Smoked malt used in Rauchbiers. Has a peat flavor. 25L

Rye - Must be mashed. Adds a spicy, fruity flavor. Most often used in Roggen style beers. 3.5L

Special roast - Imparts a toasty or biscuity flavor. 50L

Victory - Adds a warm, toasted, nutty flavor. Excellent in nut brown ales. 25L

Vienna - Similar to Munich, but not as intense. 3.5L

Crystal malts

Crystal malts are different from the other types of malts. They undergo a process that changes the starches in the grain to sugars and become caramelized. They can give a sweet somewhat caramel taste to the brew. They add to the body and head retention of beers. Crystal malts range in color from light tan to almost mahogany. 15L to 120L or so. The darker grains have more caramel/toffee taste than the lighter ones.

Caramunich - A darker and more flavorful version of caravienne. 70L

Carastan - A British malt similar to American or Belgian crystal malts. 30L

Caravienne - A crystal malt from Belgium that has a slightly sweet and toasty flavor. 25L

Roasted malts

These are the dark malts usually associated with porters, stouts, and some red beers. They have been kilned at high temperatures to obtain their flavor and color. They are deep brown to black in color and do not contain enzymes.

Chocolate malt - Chocolatey brown and has a somewhat bitter chocolate taste. For use in brown ale, porters and stouts. 350L.

Black patent malt - Almost burnt in flavor. Very dark. For use in porters and stouts. 500+L.

Black roasted barley - This is an unmalted grain. It is very dark. This is the main malt for stouts, but can be used in reds in small quantities. Very strong, bitter, burnt flavor. Contributes to production and stability of head. 500L.

Malt Extracts

To make brewing easier, quicker, and somewhat less expensive, you can use a malt extract in place of base grains. Malt extracts are the result of the malting process as described above, but with an extra step. To create the extract, the sugars are removed from the grain by sparging and the resultant mixture is called sweet wort. Using extracts eliminates the need for mashing or mini-mashing and sparging. Malt extracts come in two forms: dry and liquid. Dry malt extract (DME) is a powder form of what you would get if you did a mash yourself. All the water has been removed in a process called spray drying. Liquid extract has about 80% of the water removed. It is very thick and syrupy or almost gelatinous in texture. In essence, with extracts, you are just rehydrating the sweet wort to get back to the pre-dried state.


Belgian candi sugar - Doesn't change the beer flavor, but increases the alcohol and adds to the crispness.

Corn - Tends to lighten the body and add a sweet, corn like taste. Adds fermentable sugars.

Flaked Barley - Add to stouts for better head retention and smoothness.

Flaked Maize - Add to lighter American Pilsners for lightening the color and body.

Flaked Wheat - For use in wheat and wit beers. Adds a slight cloudiness. Can be used to replace unmalted wheat. Helps in head retention.

Honey - Adds varying flavors and aromas depending on the type of honey used (orange blossom, clover, etc). Increases the alcohol content by adding fermentable sugars.

Oats - Adds a silky texture. Used in oatmeal stouts. Has a higher fat, oil, and protein content.

Rice - Used in light colored beers, mostly lagers. Very little to no taste contribution. It imparts dry or crisp flavors.

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