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Barley and Malting

Barley and Malting

Barley is the fourth most important grain crop in the United States. Barley is one of the oldest cultivated grains. Grains found in pits and pyramids in Egypt indicate that barley was cultivated there more than 5000 years ago. Half the barley grown in the US gets used for livestock feed. As feed it is nearly equal in nutritive value to kernel corn. It is especially valuable as hog feed, giving desirable portions of firm fat and lean meat. The entire kernel is used in feed, generally after grinding or steam rolling. Malt sprouts from malting as well as brewers grain--byproducts of brewing--are also valuable livestock feeds.

Around 25 percent of barley crops are malted in the US. Of the malted barley some 80 percent is used for beer, around 14 percent for distilled alcohol products, and 6 percent for malt syrup, malted milk and breakfast foods.

Traditional British malts are more completely and evenly converted and thus are more readily mashed than traditional German malts. Malts made from American barley have significantly higher protein content than either of their European counterparts (North American two-row typically has 10-12% protein, six-row 11-13% protein), but their starches are generally as completely converted as traditional British malts.

English Malts

Pearl, Maris Otter, Halcyon, Optic, and Golden Promise (English malt species)
Crisp, Muntons, Fawcett, Hugh Baird, Simpsons, Beeston (English malters)

On Maris Otter...

In 1991-2 a consortium was formed between H Banham Ltd in Norfolk and Robin Appel Ltd in Hampshire, which approached PBI, who owned Maris Otter, with the express purpose of rejuvenating the variety to satisfy the demand of the real ale market. This consortium bought the sole right to market Maris Otter seed.

A unique three-way contract between farmer, merchant, and maltster enables the farmer to be paid a substantial premium to give him a fair return for his effort and risk. It is for this reason that Maris Otter commands a premium over modern varieties such as Optic or Pearl. In 2002 Maris Otter was bought outright by H Banham Ltd and Robin Appel Ltd.

From the outset Maris Otter demonstrated its ability to produce grain with low nitrogen levels as well as providing a uniquely reliable performance in both the maltings and the brew house.

World Malt Statistics

    Traditional Bohemian pilsner
  • About 3 to 4 degrees Lovibond
  • Low in protein (10 to 11 percent)
  • Fairly under-modified
    European pilsner malt
  • 2 degrees Lovibond
  • Low to medium in protein (10 to 11 percent) - high in enzymes, extract and potential DMS
  • Higher moisture and more DMS potential
    North American six-row
  • Less than 2 degrees Lovibond
  • High in protein (12 to 13 percent). It’s extremely high in enzyme potential
    British pale ale malt
  • 4 degrees Lovibond
  • Low in protein (9 to 11 percent)
  • Well-modified
  • Dried to a low moisture specification
  • Will yield good extract efficiency with a single rest
    North American two-row
  • Less than 2 degrees Lovibond
  • High in protein (12 to 13 percent)
  • Slightly less enzyme potential than six-row and slightly more extract potential

When growing barley moist cool seasons produce more starch, less protein & fat. Too much nitrogen fertilizer, or nitrogen fertilizer added too late in the season increase protein content.

6% is the upper limit for malted barley moisture, any more will increase the chances of mold. 1.5% is the ideal moisture amount.


Acid Rest

Phytase enzyme is responsible. Phytase enzyme has optimal enzyme activity between 86° and 120° F. Activity is most dramatic when mashing undermodified malt. There is less Phytase is darker more highly kilned malts.

Decoction Mashing

Undermodified malts trap unconverted starch within poorly soluble malt particles. Enzymes cannot reach them and do their conversions when they are trapped like this. Boiling bursts these particles and allows enzymes to reach the previously trapped starch thereby increasing efficiency (Noonan p134).