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Malted Grain Types and Mash Profiles

Saturday, July 11th, 2009

Today’s modern, high quality and highly modified malts are excellent performers for the home brewer. As with nearly any ingredient, the science behind the creation and use of any malt should be clearly understood in order for the brewer to create the desired outcome. Malt type, mash temperature and mash time all play a large role in the final product. Seeing as though the sweet wort that is created by the mashing process is the base for any beer being brewed, it is imperative that the brewer know what is going IN to the process so that he/she may know what they will get OUT of the process.

Malted barley can be classified in several categories:

  • Pale Malts (base malts)
  • Crystal (caramel)
  • Roasted (highly kilned)

The following is an overview of the particulars with each malt type, including the kilning/roasting process, typical mash temperatures, mash times and any special instructions for their use.

Pale Malt (2 row and pilsner base malt):
pale malt home brewing

Kilning/Roasting: The kilning temperature is quite low, between 104F and 113F. The ventilation is very high and therefore the malt is dried to a moisture content of 10% very quickly. Once below 10% the temperature can be raised, raising the temperature earlier would result in the destruction of too many enzymes. The low moisture content protects the enzymes. Pale malts are generally cured at 176F to 203F for about 5 hours.

Mash Temperature:
Beta Amylase 131F-150F, maltose is produced Lower final gravity, dryer beer.
Alpha Amylase 154F-162F, maltose and other sugars are produced. Higher final gravity, maltier beer.

Mash Time: Conversion can be complete in anywhere from 30 minutes to 90 minutes. The lower the mashing temperature, the longer conversion will take, the higher the temperature the faster conversion will be. Typical mashes are approximately 60 minutes.

Special Instructions: This malt MUST be mashed to convert starches to sugars. The mash temperature will determine the fermentability of the final wort and must be monitored closely.

Crystal (caramel malt):

crystal caramel malt home brewing

Kilning/Roasting: This is imperative when compared to the kilning process of the pale malts. Crystal malts when wet (green) are put into the kiln or roaster from the germination tanks and the moisture is kept very high with absolutely no ventilation. Additionally water is frequently sprayed to keep the moisture high. The temperature is raised to 140F to 158F for 30 to 40 minutes. Then the temperature is raised to 302F and normal ventilation is resumed for 1 to 2 hours, depending on how much caramelization is desired (i.e. depending on whether 10L crystal or 120L crystal is being made). If prepared in the kiln, further drying is necessary.

This process essentially causes conversion to take place inside the husk (moisture and heat), therefore denaturing the enzymes and converting the starches to sugars. This removes the need for this malt to be mashed, and therefore it can be steeped in hot water for extract brewing.

Mash Temperature: No need to be mashed as the starches were converted in the kilning process. This malt can be steeped for extract brewing, or used in a mash with the remainder of an AG mash.

Mash Time: No mash needed. Generally mashed with the remainder of the grain bill.

Special Instructions: These sugars are not as fermentable, resulting in a fuller, maltier beer. Use as 5% to 25% of the grain bill.

Roasted Malt (highly kilned malt):

roasted highly kilned malt home brewing

Kilning/Roasting: Creating this malt is a matter of taking a typical pale malt similar to Pilsner or 2 Row and place it in a roasting drum. Water is sometimes used to cool the malt quickly when the roasting is complete. The main difference between this roasting and the curing of Pale malts is temperature and time, both being increased in the production of this malt.

Mash Temperature: No need to be mashed as the starches were converted in the kilning process. This malt can be steeped for extract brewing, or used in a mash with the remainder of an AG mash.

Mash Time: No need to be mashed as the starches were converted in the kilning process. This malt can be steeped for extract brewing, or used in a mash with the remainder of an AG mash.

Special Instructions: Dark roasted malts can provide needed color and flavor to darker beers, but can also add some bitter astringency. One technique to provide a smoother flavor is to add this malt at the end of the mash so as to lessen the astringency it can contribute.

  1. 5 Responses to “Malted Grain Types and Mash Profiles”

  2. I’m a beginner, on my second extract batch. Very informative. Is it safe to say that, with amber and dark dry or liquid extracts, that they correlate in terms of fermentable sugars to whole grains? In other words, are the amber and dark malt extracts less fermentable then the light?


    By tpitman on Jun 15, 2011

  3. All varieties of liquid malt extract have the same fermentability for a given brand. Only the color is different.

    1 pound of liquid malt extract (LME) in one gallon of water gives a gravity of 1.037. This can also be expressed as 37 points per pound per gallon, commonly written as ppg. Similarly 1 pound of dry malt extract (DME) gives a ppg of 45-46.

    By Larry on Jun 15, 2011

  4. Thanks. My first was a Coopers Dark Ale, one can with corn sugar. The second batch was done with two cans of Breiss extract, one can light and one can amber. No sugar. After reading the article above I was curious as to whether the amber might have held less fermentable sugars than the light, and in going forward if this was a consideration I would have to account for in the future using extracts. Again, thanks for clearing this up.

    By tpitman on Jun 16, 2011

  5. Sounds like you are having a lot of fun! When you are ready to keg your beer, we’re here. When you are ready to go to all-grain brewing, we’re here. When you are ready to build a brew shed, we’re here!

    By Larry on Jun 16, 2011

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