Our previous article in the beer culture series was dedicated to malt, that essential ingredient for making your drink favourite.
What we want to explain to you today are the different types of malt that exist, so that when you read the information from the brewmasters about the recipes of your favorite styles, you fully understand everything they explain.
And, just as with other drinks such as wine, where we more or less know all the grapes that can make up a bottle, why not know the same about beers? You will see that it is not complicated, let's go with the different classifications of malt that exist in the market!
Malt and its families: base malts
Base malts are those that can be used 100% in a beer recipe. Come on, it would not be necessary to add anything else (unless you want to).
- Pilsner malt is the lightest of all malts and the traditional choice for Lagers, to which it adds flavors of bread and honey. Pale malt it has a bit more color and more complex flavors, with a repertoire that ranges from sponge cake to cookies to brioche.
- Vienna malt is the basis for traditional Central European styles, such as Oktoberfest's Märzen, bringing deep bakery and dried fruit flavors and a rich golden color.
- Finally, Munich malt covers a repertoire of colors and registers that reaches amber tones, always with deep memories of cereal. Special malts
Various malts: the touches that differentiate the recipe
With them you cannot compose a recipe 100%, but they are used to add particular touches and are almost always used in quantities that are not even half of the base. They are the result of very specific processes of baking and roasting at high temperatures specific to each malt. The best known are:
- Amber malt is made like pale malt but is roasted at slightly higher temperatures, bringing out flavors of nuts and biscuity, as well as a slight bitterness.
- The biscuit malt is roasted with a little more heat and shows slightly more roasted notes of hazelnuts and toffee.
- Brown malt is roasted at temperatures that are not as high but for a longer time and provides brown colors and coffee flavors.
- Acid malts provide a touch of lactic acid that helps correct the pH of the must during maceration.
- The smoked maltss are roasted in wood ovens, in the old style, and then add the touch of smoke peculiar to each one.
Special malts: the special character
They are malts that are used in ungenerous proportions since they provide little fermentable sugar and can make heavy and sweet beers if we exceed them. It is difficult for a recipe to take more than 15-20%, but several of them can be combined.
- Crystal or caramel malts, their aromas and flavors are sweet and cover a wide range of colors and nuances, from pale to dark tones: it can be said that each base or special malt has a crystal “sister” or candy. The production of these malts is done in small batches and in a very traditional way.
- Dark malts are those that are roasted at high temperatures and due to this extreme heat they lose their enzymatic power, become acidified and become more astringent, exactly as occurs with coffee beans or cocoa beans, which they are made with similar processes. The main malts in this family are Chocolate and the different types of Carafa, which impart flavors of cocoa and liquorice.
This category also includes the highly roasted -but unmalted- barley grain known as roasted barley and which is a vital ingredient in stout.
Other cereal malts
In recent years there has been a great interest in alternative malts such as rye, rice or oats.
- Wheat is a cereal that is as traditional in beer as barley, but it has certain difficulties in being malted. Depending on the recipes, it can be between 5-10% and 60-70% of the base.
- The rye provides an excellent mouthfeel while reinforcing the overall malty character and adding a distinctive spice-like accent, similar to pepper. It is not very easy to work with when making the must and is usually used in percentages ranging from 5 to 10%.
- Oat malts are the newest on the market. The latter has many fans as it strengthens the body and provides smoothness and a silky texture with a flavor reminiscent of walnuts.
Now that you know what these types of malt are called: Would you be able to identify your favorite malt?, Or rather, the malt that appears the most in your favorite style of craft beer?
It's not for nothing, but imagine how cool it is when you go to order a beer at a good specialized place and ask for a certain type of malt.
Boom! You are already an expert Beer Sapiens, and we love it. :)