For beer, malt is more than just an ingredient. It’s, rather, its lifeblood. Malt converts into sugar, which yeast uses to create alcohol. Grain transforms into malt, and malt into beer.
Malting is all about germinating cereal grains by soaking them in water. The germination is restricted by exposing grains to hot air. This keeps the enzymes in the malted grains intact, which breakdown starch into fermentable sugars. These sugars are used for beer production.
The variety spoils home brewers for choice when it comes to choosing malt for their next brew. All malts are either base malts or speciality malts. Homebrewers are creative with malt blends for recipe formulation. Here’re a few malts that are brewing a storm in the craft beer space.
a). Biscuit Malt:
Biscuit Malt is an intensely flavoured speciality Belgian malt, produced by germinating kiln-dried barley. The grain is roasted at 350°F for a rather short time. The low roast times are responsible for the 30° Lovibond/SRM, garnet-brown colour. The intense temperature and stumpy moisture levels together help develop exotic biscuit and nutty flavours and aromas that define the malt, and the lagers and ales it is used in. The enzyme action is missing in the malt, thanks to high temperatures. Apparently, other malt enzymes might be required for conversions.
b). Cara Ruby Malt:
It’s Belgian crystal malt, apt for brown, amber, and Scottish bocks and ales. Homebrewers count on the Château Cara Ruby Malt for a striking caramel-sweet aroma, an exotic flavour resembling a toffee, and light amber colour. Enhanced head retention is also achievable with the malt. The malting process involves placidly cooked malt to transform starches into fermentable sugars. As the malt achieves the final hue, a few of the sugars are caramelized. This ensures a dual advantage to the home brewer. One, the mashing of crystal malts isn’t required. Two, sugars in optimal quantity endure fermentation, imparting the beer a sweetened taste.
c). Château Arôme Malt:
Château Arôme malt is coveted Belgian aromatic malt. The malt’s diastatic power exceeds that of conventional coloured malts and so does the ability for smoother bitterness. The high diastatic power means more starch-hydrolyzing enzyme for optimal mash starting gravity in all-grain brewing. The germination is done at up to 115°C to develop a distinguishing, rich malty flavour and aroma. With up to 20% of the mix, the malt is suited for highly aromatic amber and dark lager beers. Château Arôme malt needs to be stored at below 22 °C temperature.
d). Chocolate malt:
Homebrewers have a predilection for the rich, exotic roast aroma the chocolate malt renders. In trivial quantities (up to 3%), the malt lends itself well to brown and old ales, rendering a wacky flavour and intense, ruby red hue. Higher quantities (up to 12%) ensure a black colour and seamless roasted flavour of coffee or cocoa. As the name says it all, chocolate is the prime ingredient. Caramel malts are the other key ingredient in porters. The malting process involves roasting the pale malt at 420–450 °F. The roasting time is short, typically 2 to 2.5 hours.
e). Lager Malt:
Lager Malt in one word is versatility. The base malt is more often used for the commonest of all beer styles out there, pale lagers, and hence the name. However, it finds application in every other beer style as well. Specifications may vary, but the malt is produced by exposing the grain to 90F in a kiln. Next comes the withering process, which happens at 120-140F and lasts for up to 20 hours. Eventually, the malt is cured at up to 185F for not more than 48 hours. The process lends the malt a stunning flavour and an exceptional enzyme potential.