TRADITIONAL BASE MALTS
Not all base malts are created equal and gaining an intimate understanding of these little beads of joy will guide you in creating award winning beers time after time.
A base malt will provide the lion share of all your brewing starches and ultimately the enzymes to convert those starches into sugar. What happens if we don’t have sugar? we don’t get alcohol – this would be a travesty indeed.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN 2-ROW and 6-ROW?
The two most common base malts are referred to as 2-row and 6-row. You would think that the higher the number you would get a better malt. All these numbers refers to is the pattern the barley grows in. 2-row grows in 2 opposing rows up the stalk and 6-row grows in three rows on alternating orientations up the stalk.
WHAT DOES GRAIN BILL MEAN?
When you start to create your own recipes you may come across the term grain bill. This is your recipe list. Here is an example of a recipe grain bill example: Pale Malt – 80%, 15% Munich, 5% Crystal.
It is also completely fine for base malt to make up 100% of your entire recipes grain bill.
FLAVOURS AND BREWING WITH BASE MALTS
Use the base malt table below to help identify which malt you could use for your next home brew recipe and the flavours you can expect from them. This is by no means an exhaustive list but it covers the malts used by most commercial breweries.
The most common malt used in brewing. Rarely darker than a pale yellow 3°Lovibond in colour and high in enzyme activity. The flavour is typically sweet and neutral.
Flavours: Mild malty, faint and light grainy flavors
2-Row, Base, Brewers, Domestic, 2-Row Pale
Grown in the United States almost exclusively. High enzyme activity makes
Flavours: Similar to two-row but with a gritty sharper flavour profile.
6-Row, American, Base, Domestic
Maris Otter (Barley) is a traditional, two-row, low-protein, winter barley variety. Use Maris Otter to create beers of relatively low gravity and alcoholic strength, such as “ordinary” bitters, while retaining a genuinely malty flavour profile.
Popular choice for Pale Ales, Bitters, IPA’s, stouts, Scottish Ales and Barley wines.
Flavours: Malty, rich and nutty
The traditional choice for light-coloured lagers. It is typically the lightest base malt available and has a slight grassy flavour. Slightly lower protein than 6- Row Brewers Malt.
Flavours: lightly grainy, slight honey-like flavours
Pilsner, Pilsener, Pils, Lager
Pale Ale Malt
The “grown up” version of 2-row. Its darker colour provides a much bigger and more complex flavour. Extremely popular for English ales and full-bodied American beers.
Flavours: Rich malt flavour and adds additional colour
Pale, ESB, Special Malt, Best Malt, Extra Pale
A base malt with a slight toast and nutty flavour. It creates a clean finish and is excellent in lagers when some complexity is needed.
Flavours: nice toasty and biscuit flavour, very little of the sweetness of the lighter-kilned base malts, and stops short of the too-full richness that can come from Munich malt. Adds an orange hue.
Often used in conjunction with other base malts due to higher colour and lower enzyme activity.
Flavours: Adds a malty sweetness.
Mild Ale, English Ale
Comes in many colours and varieties. Only varieties 10°L or lower in colour should be used as a base malt. Anything darker has little to no enzymes.
Flavours: rich bready melanoidin flavor and even a touch of light-crystal flavor. Adds maltiness and is popular in amber lagers.
Munich 5°L, American Munich, Munich 10°L
Wheat, Oat, Rye, and Other Malts
Any grain can be made into a base malt, but barley is by far the most popular.
We only use premium malts in all of our small batch home brew recipes and where possible Australian grains are our preferred choice. Malt brands we include are Voyager, Coopers, Joe White, Simpsons, Weyermann, Barrett Burston & Gladfield.
Home brew recipe creation is an art that any new brewer can master. Once you understand the various ingredients that go into your beer you can create unlimited recipes and styles. Brewing beer is all about the balance of flavours and when you combine yeast, barley, hops and water in creative ways amazing things can happen. This is why they call it craft beer. Get one of our home brew starter kits and mini keg kits and start your journey with us. Just because you are brewing small doesn’t mean you cant dream big. Tag us @smallbatchbrew so we can tell the world about another up and coming Master Brewer.