More than you want to know about Roasted grain in 20 minutes or less.

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Overview of malting process

  1. Green barley comes in from the field, is analyzed, sorted and stored.
    • 1 – 3 months storage time from harvest to the beginning of malting.
  2. Steeping – to increase the total moisture of the barley
    • Brings internal moisture content up to about 45% from the 10-14% that it already has
    • Important Factors: Time (24-60 hours), Temp (48-60°F), Aeration, CO2 removal.
  3. Germination – to develop enzymes and make starch available to those enzymes
    • Usually takes about 4 days
    • Important Factors: Temp (60-70°F), Airflow, Moisture
    • Rootlets grows from base of kernel, acrospire grows from the base towards the tip.
  4. Kilning – to dry the grain to roughly 4%, develop color/flavor
    • Kilning program depends on finished grain requirements
    • 16-40 hours, depending on end product desired.
  5. Roasting – used in alone (post germination) or in conjunction with a kiln to produce a variety of caramel and roasted malts

Malt Types

  1. No Standard system of classification
    • Brewer’s often classify by use (base, color, charachter, etc)
    • Maltsters often classify by production method (base, kilned, kilned caramel, roasted caramel, dry roasted, etc)
    • Everyone agrees on one major distinction: Base and Specialty malts
  2. Base: kilned at low temperatures to preserve pale color and enzymes
    • e.g. pale, pils
    • Some consider kilned malts that still retain diastatic power to be included in this category
      • e.g. Munich, Vienna, Mild
  3. Kilned Specialty: Generally Kilned at slightly higher temps to encourage more melanoidin reactions (develop more flavor)
    • Munich, mild, specialty pilsner malts, honey malt, biscuit, etc.
    • Some of these malts retain enzymes and can be used like a base malt, others must be used in conjunction with a base malt
      • honey, biscuit, etc must be mashed
  4. Kilned Caramel: after germination, heat applied to bring grain to 140- 160 at full moisture level, starches converted to sugar, then malt is dried/kilned
    • Carapils/Caramel/crystal up to about 80L.
  5. Roasted Caramel: after germination, malt is transferred to a roasting drum. Same process as kilned caramel, but heat is applied with more intensity and more rapidly.
    • Full spectrum of crystal/caramel malts can be produced this way

Production of Dry Roasted grain

  1. Dry Roastedmalts are processed twice
      • Quick and intense heat application yields successively darker colors and roasted flavors as time in drum progresses.
    • After germination, they are kilned almost to completion (about 6% instead of 4%)
    • allowed to rest for approx. 3 weeks before transfer to a roasting drum.
    • Amber, brown, chocolate, black patent, etc
  2. During roasting, the malt flavor progresses from sweet and malty to nutty, then toasty, then biscuity, eventually to coffee, chocolate, coffee again, then acrid
    • Color and flavor coincide with internal grain temperature
    • As desired temp is nears, the operator turns off heat, collects a sample, quickly analyzes flavor and color
  3. If all ok, malt is doused with water in the drum, tumbled for a few seconds, then goes to a cooling sieve.
    • Rapid cooling is important to minimize addional color and flavor development
  4. Malt rests for an additional 3+ weeks.

3 major types of dry roasted grain: Chocolate Malt, Black Malt, Roasted Barley

  1. Chocolate
      • Provides flavor of dark toast (small additions) to bittersweet chocolate, coffee (larger additions)
      • Roasted slower, to lower internal grain temp (unknown)
      • 180 – 250 °L
      • Available from Crisp, Thomas Fawcett
    • Roasted until internal grain temp reaches 300-450
    • Color generally between 325 and 425°L (US), 350- 625°L(UK)
    • Use 1-10% in Brown ale, porter and Stout
      • Small amounts can be used for color/flavor in lighter styles
    • Darker chocolate malts will generally tend to be sharper, more acidic, more bitter.
    • Chocolate malts tend to increase body a bit
    • Pale Chocolate made my limiting heat application
  2. Black Malt
      • He patented his process, hence “Black Patent.” His patent has long since expired, so now it is usually called black malt
    • Modern black malt developed in 1817, by some English guy.
    • Made using same process as other dry roasted grain. Internal temperature taken over 500°F (sometimes up to 700°F)
    • Color 475-550°L (US), 500-675°L (UK)
    • Flavor is usually less intense than lighter roasted malts, leaving some coffee character, but predominantly acrid, ashy character
    • Used above 5% (up to 15%), will contribute black color to porter and stout, lower amounts (down to .1%) in paler beer will contribute red hues to beer with out strong roasty flavors that come from Roasted barley used in the same way.
    • Black malt tends to increase body
  3. Roasted Barley
      • Grainy, husky, dark toasty flavor at low use rates. Good option for color adjustment in lighter beers. (<2%)
      • Contributes more coffee flavor at moderate-heavy use rates. (>2%) Traditionally reserved for stout
      • Roasted to 475 – 525 °L (US)
      • Use 1-10%
        • Small amounts contribute  color, burnt toast character
        • Moderate use contributes light coffee, burnt coffee flavor
        • Contributes to dryness and thin body
    • Not a malted grain!
    • Dry, raw six-row barley is loaded into the roaster, and the heat is applied.
    • Roasted Barley: similar temp profiles to chocolate malt (US versions)
    • Roasted to 275 – 375°L (US), 500 – 700°L (UK)
      • Don’t use UK and US versions interchangeably!
    • Use 1-10%
    • Contributes to dryness and thinner body.
    • Black Barley is a US product that is darker than US roasted barley, similar to the darker UK Roasted Barley.
  4. What the Fuh is Carafa?
      • Smoother beer
    • Carafa is basically German chocolate, available in 3 grades
      • Type I – 300 -375 L (similar to paler US choco malts)
      • Type II – 413 – 450 (similar to dark US choco)
      • Type III – 488-563L (similar to dark UK choco)
    • Use 1-5% in all kinds of beer.
      • Contributes similar characteristics to chocolate malts of same color range (bittersweet chocolate, dark toast, light coffee)
    • 3 types give finer tuning across flavor/color spectrum.
    • Carafa Special = dehusked version
      • Contributes less grainy harshness, less burnt character

Choosing between Dark Roasted Malts

  1. Typically, darker color indicates sharper flavor.
    • Don’t sub UK for US, or vice versa, unless you want to change the character of the beer
    • When planning a recipe, pick the roasted grain by desired contribution, not what is the most traditional choice
      • These are all very modern malts, not similar to the ingredients used in historical Porters or Stouts of yore.
  2. Recent tradition dictates that Porters may contain chocolate and/or black malt, while stouts more frequently use chocolate, and roasted barley, perhaps with some Black Malt thrown in for good measure.


Sources and additional reading:

1. Lewis, Michael; Young, Tom. Brewing. Springer; 2nd Ed, 2002

2. Ockert, Karl, ed. MBAA Practical Handbook Vol 1: Raw Materials and Brewhouse Operations. Master Brewers Association of the Americas, 2006.

3. Sapsis, David. BJCP Study Guide — Malt and Adjuncts. 8 December 2010 <>