The Magic of Malt: Craft Beer’s Secret Ingredient

The Magic of Malt: Craft Beer's Secret Ingredient

To understand the reason for the use of malt, one must first comprehend what malt is.

Craft beer has a long history and malt has always been used as a fundamental ingredient. It is common knowledge that if you want high-quality craft beer, you must use malt. However, many people know this without truly understanding why. Allow me to explain why malt is necessary.

The purpose of malting

Enzyme preparation manufacturing:

When barley sprouts, a portion of the starch breaks down and a large amount of enzymes are produced.

Mild dissolution of malt:

During the malting process, with the assistance of enzymes, starch and protein in wheat grains are moderately dissolved, and macromolecular compounds are broken down.

Elimination of grassy flavor and development of color, aroma, and taste:

Excess moisture and the grassy flavor in green malt are removed through drying, resulting in wheat grains with unique color, aroma, and taste during the brewing process, which greatly influences the quality of craft beer. Taste plays a crucial role.

Two principles of malting:

Biological process:

Dormant kernels are fully awakened, including root and germ growth; other structural changes occur, as well as the production or release of enzymes.

Chemical process:

Without further growth, the malt is “liquefied” by the action of enzymes (which is quite different from enzyme release), forming soluble materials called extracts and malt flavors.

The purpose of soaking barley:

Activation of the dormant barley’s physical activity. The moisture content of barley needs to increase to 43%-48%, and a sufficient amount of air is required for the barley to breathe.

Further cleansing of barley.

Removal of tannins and harmful components from the husk.

Malt drying:

Moisture reduction: from over 40% to below 5%. When the moisture is reduced to 10-12% through a large volume of hot air, the temperature is raised to over 50°C. Germination and dissolution termination: The grain dies and becomes stable malt.

Formation of color and aroma compounds: When the temperature exceeds 80°C, a series of low molecular weight substances will form various pigment compounds and aroma compounds.

The reason why barley is used is because it is not a staple food and is readily available in large quantities. Moreover, the husk is thin, the starch content is high, the protein content is relatively low, the germination is uniform, and the extract yield is high. It is the first choice for brewing craft beer.

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