Malted grain comes in many different styles and flavors.
We will not discuss or list them all, since there are many and naming vs style can
be similar or the same under multiple names. On the left are the most commonly named
Malt is the building block for the beer. From it, the necessary sugars are derived
during enzymatic reactions that break down the long chain starch molecules into more
digestible ( by brewing yeast ) sugars.
Malt for brewing is harvested when the grains are full of potential energy in the
way of carbohydrates and starch content. Ideally, it is desired that the malt be
just ready to germinate without having done so because by then, it is consuming it’s
own fuel source and the one we are concerned about the most for making a wort, the
unfermented starting point for our yeast.
It is then heated, in the presence of moisture and just germinated to where the enzyme
content is high. Over the past decades, the world has developed very highly modified
malt. This means that the malt is loaded with starch and the necessary enzymes to
convert it to the sugars needed. 100 years ago this was not the case, and brewing
required longer mash times.
It has been proven that malt today, can be fully converted ( starch to sugar ) in
as little as 15 min's !!! Astounding. Many brew texts have yet to catch up. But there
is more that occurs during the mash then just conversion to sugars. There are the
complexities of Malliard reactions and the breaking down of peptides, etc that become
important ingredients to the beer.
The degree and temperature that the malt is heated with determines what classification
it will be put in.
For instance, Pilsner malt is very lightly kilned. It is usually cured at 180 -185
F and no more. This gentle heating is what makes Pilsner malt so perfect for very
light lagers and Pilsners. It imparts the light straw color we all know.
On the other end of the spectrum is Black malt. It is kilned at 420 - 445 F and is
burnt. This malt is used in stouts, extra stouts and the like. Usually in small quantities
as it tends to have a burnt ash flavor and too much would be like licking an ashtray