Have you ever looked at a pint of beer and wondered, how did the beer get to be that color?
The answer is Malt. What exactly is malt? It’s short for malted grain. When it comes to brewing beer, all kinds of grain can be used to produce different results. Brewers typically use rye, oats, rice, corn, and barley. Barley being the most common malt of all. Each of these malts will change the flavor, mouthfeel, and sweetness of the beer. However, it’s most important job is to color the beer.
Malt is made by taking the grain of choice, spreading it out over a wide area, and slowly soaking it for about a month and a half. By soaking the grain, it allows it to germinate, which is just a fancy term for growing. Malt producers stop the germination process by blasting the grain with some heat or roasting it.
This is where things start to get interesting.
The color of the beer depends on how much you roast the malt. When malt is roasted for a short period of time, you will get a pale ale or lager, depending on what kind of yeast is used. These kinds of malts can be found in beers like the Rebellion Lentil Cream, Nokomis Golden Ale, and District Pilsner.
When the malt is roasted for a bit longer, the beer turns more golden because it starts to extract the color from the gain. At this point, beer will go from golden in color to more of an amber or red-like color. The Rebellion Amber Ale, Cannery Brewing Anarchist, and Parallel 49 Salty Scott would use these kinds of malts.
The longer malt is roasted, the darker the color they’ll produce. After the amber stage, malt will start to give more of a brown color like the Nokomis Brown Ale or the Fernie First Trax before turning into a dark beer like the Black Bridge Milk Stout or the Pile O’ Bones Peanut Butter Milk Stout.
You could say that malt is a really important ingredient in beer. In fact, most of the world’s malt is produced to make beer. However, malt is also a key ingredient in whiskey too. Between beer and whiskey, their ingredients are quite similar and that's why some people say that whiskey is just a grown-up version of beer.
So, cheers to malt! Without it, all of our favorite pints would just look like sparkling water.
What's your favorite color of beer? Light, amber, brown or dark?