Malted Barley Appreciation Society

Malted Barley Appreciation Society Newsletter

Vol. 5, No. 11                                November 1998

The Magic of Malt Part II: The Sequel

by George de Piro

Last month’s article began our discussion of malting, explaining the process of germination. This article will describe the procedures used to dry and kiln the wet grain and the effects on the malt’s flavor and appearance.

Vienna malt and pale ale malt will yield beers of similar color, but the two malts cannot be used interchangeably because their flavors are dramatically different. Why is this? The kilning schedule is a huge factor in determining the color and flavor of the malt. Depending on how the malt is dried and roasted different chemical reactions occur that effect the flavor and appearance of the malt. Melanoidins are very important flavor active compounds in malt. The kilning schedule largely determines the amount and types of melanoidins that will be produced.

Melanoidins are formed when simple sugars react with amino acids (the building blocks of proteins) in a hot, moist environment. The chemical reaction that forms them is called the Maillard reaction. Melanoidins come in a wide range of flavors, including bready, malty, caramel-like, and even astringent. The type of flavor depends on the types of melanoidins present, and this in turn depends on the reaction conditions.

Certain malts, like Munich and aromatic malts, are high in toasty, malty-tasting melanoidins. Other malts, like Pilsner malt, have relatively mild malt flavors because they have fewer of the types of melanoidins that produce these flavors. The maltster can control the melanoidin profile of malt by carefully managing the kilning schedule.

Pilsner malt, the palest and mildest-tasting of all commercial malts, is produced in a way that minimizes melanoidin formation. The formation of Maillard reactants (amino acids and simple sugars) is minimized by thoroughly drying the malt at a low temperature (less than 122 �F) before raising the heat to the final roasting temperature (about 180 �F). Kilning the malt in this manner also preserves the proteolytic and amolytic enzymes that the brewer will later use in the mash tun.

Caramelly-tasting crystal malts are kilned in such a way that they are actually “mashed” in the husk. The temperature rests used by the maltster are exactly the same as those used in the brewer’s mash tun because the same enzymes are utilized. The wet grain is heated to 122 �F and rested for a short time in order to break down proteins. The vents in the kiln are kept closed during this time to keep the malt wet.

The wet malt is then heated to around 150 �F, again while the vents are kept closed. At this temperature the starchy endosperm is converted to sugar. After an hour or two the temperature is raised to the final kilning temperature of the malt, but the vents are not opened immediately. This causes the damp malt to expand, sort of like popcorn, and the Maillard reaction produces lots of caramel-tasting melanoidins. After a time the vents are opened fully, allowing the malt to dry and causing the sugary endosperm to become glassy.

The exact color and flavor of the malt is dependent on the kilning temperature. Kilning the malt at a high temperature while it is still moist destroys all of the enzymes in the grain. The starch is almost all converted to sugar, though, so you can steep crystal malt in a malt extract wort without worrying about starch haze (note: some brands of crystal malt, notably Pauls from the UK, do contain enough starch to give your beer a permanent haze).

Vienna and Munich malts are kilned in a manner similar to that of crystal malts. The moist malt is heated to 122 �F to break down proteins into amino acids to fuel the Maillard reaction. The malt is allowed to dry to about 30% moisture during this time. It is then heated to about 150 �F to convert some of the starch to sugar. The moisture content drops further to around 20%. Unlike crystal malt, not all of the starchy endosperm is converted to sugar. The malt is then dried to about 5% moisture before being heated to its final kilning temperature. As with crystal malt, the final color and flavor of the malt depends on how hot this final kilning is. Typically, Vienna malt is kilned at 180 �F while Munich is kilned around 220 �F.

The kilning process for Vienna and Munich malts does preserve some of the amolytic enzymes so they can be used for 100% of a beer’s grain bill. These malts do contain a lot of starch, so they cannot be steeped in an extract wort without causing a significant starch haze.

The kilning schedule is a huge factor in determining the color and flavor of the malt. Roasted malts, like chocolate and black patent malts, are made by roasting the grain at very high temperatures. The grains are quenched with steam during kilning in order to keep them from scorching (and catching fire). Obviously, such treatment destroys all of the enzymes. It also burns the starch so that these malts can be added to an extract wort without causing significant haze.

Knowing why different malts taste the way they do better enables you to select the ingredients that will produce you target beer. Hopefully you will take the knowledge from these articles and put it to use in your brewery. Perhaps you’ll even be inspired to try your hand at producing your own malt. Nothing is quite as intense as freshly-malted grains...

Battle of the Beer Bulge

by B. R. Rolya

In last month's episode, our heroes were deep inside enemy lines, trying to get an urgent message to headquarters... Oh, wait, that's a different story. What really happened was that our heroes were drinking their way through the K�lschbier of K�ln and trying to pry secret recipes out of recalcitrant Belgian brewers. After regrouping in France (and visiting fine wine towns such as Saint-Emilion and Bordeaux), we decided to head to the picturesque Flemish town of Brugge.

Our hotel was conveniently located on the same square as the Straffe Hendrik Brewery. The only beer that they were serving that day (they sometimes have seasonal beers available) was their Blonde. This 6% beer was served surprisingly cold, but the floral aroma of Saaz hops came right through, as did the pilsner malt flavor and hop bitterness. We also detected a slight sour note, but it only added to the complexity. We bought a cheap bottle to bring back to the hotel in case of withdrawal symptoms in the middle of the night. Straffe Hendrik also has a brewery tour, and while the tour guide recites the same lecture that she's probably given a thousand times (with the exact same jokes in English, French, and Flemish), the brewery museum is quite interesting. It has an odd assortment of random brewing-related items including a copper cool ship, the brewery's old fermentation tanks that were cleaned by having a man crawl inside through a tiny porthole, a picture of the founder of Quebec City who was a Frenc brewer, and a visit to the old malt kilning room. Of course, everyone was given a free beer at the end of the tour.

Brugge is an incredibly quaint town that is unfortunately jammed with tourists in the summer, but fortunately also packed with impressive beer bars that make d.b.a seem like a Burger King with Le Cirque prices. We sampled many fine beers at some of those bars, including a special draft beer from De Dolle Brewers called "21". It was brewed in honor of the Erasmus Bar's 21st anniversary and is only available on draft there. This 9.5% beer (with only a hint of the high alcohol) was very complex with pleasant aromatic notes (coriander? orange?) and an initial malt flavor that melded gently with the full but soft and mellow spice notes. Other beers that we enjoyed included the Verhaeghe Vichte Brewery's (Br.) Duchesse de Bourgogne which had sweet and sour notes; Br. Clarysse Felix Speciaal Oudenaards, an oud bruin that was more sweet than sour; and Br. Hughe's (from Gent) triple fermented La Guillotine which went from bitter to sweet and back to bitter with alcohol apparent throughout.

At another bar, one of the beers we particularly enjoyed was Br. Van Steenberge's 11.5% Gulden Draak (golden dragon), a very earthy, malty beer that is only available on draft at the De Garre bar (normally it is sold in bottles). Van Steenberge's Bornem Dubbel was very mellow and heavy, but we were a bit scared by the spooky-looking monk on the label who more closely resembled the grim reaper rather than the jovial clerics one generally associates with beer. The Tripel van de Garre (brewed special for the bar) was very smooth and creamy and was served in a fantastic tulip glass. In Belgium, all of the beers are served in their proper glasses, most of which are unique in shape to a particular beer. Br. Louwaege's (in Kortemark) Hapkin was an 8.5% blonde ale that was refermented in the bottle. The label on the bottle was very attractive (1920s Soviet farm worker esthetic) and the beer inside was just as nice - a very refreshing and deceptively strong ale.

Our next pilgrimage was to the Abbey of Saint Sixtus in Westvleteren. On the way there, we stopped off in the hop fields of Poperinge and decorated the interior of the car with fallen hop bines and cones. After almost running a senior citizen bike tour off of one of the one-lane farm roads, we arrived at St. Sixtus where the locals come to buy beer at a drive-through. At the abbey, they were only selling the 8 and 12 since the 6 wouldn't be brewed until the fall. We decided to refresh ourselves at the source, and went across the street to the Caf� De Vrede (by this time, the senior citizen bike group had caught up with us there). They had the 6 (Special) in bottles there, so we sampled that and the 8 (Extra). The were both the same mahogany brown in color, but the 6 had a malted milk ball aroma and flavor (not unpleasant!) while the 8 had some fruity and sour notes with mellow roasted malt flavor.

Our next stop was in Beersel, a small town just south of Brussels that is located deep in the heart of the Payottenland. We had dinner at the Drie Fonteinen where our primary concern was trying their lambik (sic). (The owner is one of the last lambic blenders.) Once we tried the food, however, we were quite happy with our decision to eat there, even though we weren't very hungry. Their lambik was slightly hazy and honey gold in color. Its brett. aroma was not overpowering, nor was its sourness, and we found some wine notes in the medium finish. This gentle lambik was very easy to drink. We also tried their Framboise and Kriek, but we might have misunderstood the waitress and confused our bright pinkish-ruby drinks which created a bit of a mystery tasting: "Wait! Is this raspberry? No, cherry. No, raspberry." Anyhow, both of them were quite good with some sweetness and a nice, underlying sourness.

After dinner, we decided to walk off some of the delicious food, so we tried to go to another bar or two. Unfortunately, we only found one other bar open that night, and it was the local pigeon racers' bar, complete with cages of pigeons. We scored an excellent old bottle of Hanssens Gueuze, which was brought out and opened to much fanfare. It was so covered in dirt and other unknown substances that the bartender had to cut the thick crust off with a knife before expertly pouring off the sediment. This very effervescent gueuze had a musty, sulfuric aroma with some sour notes. The flavor was sour, then sulfuric, suddenly followed by a surprisingly full sweet note that had some nuttiness; the flavor ended on a rather bitter note.

Our next destination was Pipaix and the Brasserie � Vapeur, but first we stopped in Oudenaarde (happily, tourist free!) for a mid-morning beer break. It was very difficult to find a place that was open (since many were closed for summer holidays - a common occurrence, we found) and that served local beers. We finally found a place that also had a very friendly dog who reminded us of Milo as he might be in old age. We tried 2 beers from Br. Roman: Ename Dubbel (6.5%) and Dobbelen Bruinen (8%). Both of them were deep brown with reddish tones. The Dubbel had a clean, tart pilsner aroma combined with a sour, earthy note but also a metallic note towards the finish. The flavor combined sweetness with an odd yeastiness. The Dobbelen had a roasty and nutty aroma with sweet sherry notes. The roasted and sweet malt flavor was combined with a huge alcohol presence (not exactly what one expects before lunch).

On the road again, we passed the old Mill of the Wild Cat and stopped at the Br. Ellezelloise in Ellezelle. Although they were in the middle of brewing, the brewer was kind enough to give us the grand tour. It's a very tiny and compact brewery situated on 2 floors (the second floor, under the eaves, also holds the "tasting room"). It was very well-maintained with gleaming copper kettles and the brewer was very flattered that we had come "all the way from New York" to visit his modest establishment. We tried 2 of their 3 beers, both named Quintine after a legendary local witch. The full-bodied Blonde (8%) had spicy/sweet aroma and a rich malt flavor balanced by bitterness in the finish.

The Ambr�e (8.5%) also had spice notes in the nose, but also a very distinctive raisin or prune note with a hint of alcohol. The full malt body was, as with the Blonde, nicely balanced with good bitterness and spiciness. They also brew a 9% stout called Hercule after Hercule Poirot who, in the Agatha Christie novels, ws born in the town. Our final stop was Br. � Vapeur in the tiny town of Pipaix. We arrived in the late afternoon and as soon as everyone was done setting up for the brewing session for the next day, we were served pitchers of Folie and Cochonne. The next day, brewing started early in the morning. The 100 year-old brewery looks its age with dust, cobwebs, and mold everywhere. It was a bit surreal to watch the cogs and gears start to turn from the steam-powered pistons. The giant mash tun is 200 years old and is made from wood with a cast iron exterior. Grain and water are continuously mixed in the tun by a large rake (originally turned by horses or men, but now by steam). As the mash is sparged, a valve is opened at the bottom of the tun and the wort splashes out (with no regard for hot-side aeration!) and is pumped upstairs to the copper boiling kettle. The whole process is extremely interesting by virtue of the archaic equipment.

Of course, watching the brewing process makes one very hungry and thirsty, so the Dits provide a lunch for those who are interested. (Beer started to flow once mash-in was done: the Belgian equivalent of a coffee break.) When we were there, they had an amazing and delicious selection of local cheeses, one of which has been cured in the same spices that are used in Vapeur's beer. After lunch, and a few more beers, it was unfortunately time to return to Brussels to catch our plane. However, we did manage to bring back a few beers to tide us over until our next beer journey.

The October Meeting

By Lucy Zachman

October is cask conditioned ale month! OK, not officially, but there are a number of them here --and more coming.

According to Ron Fisher of B. United, our speaker at the October meeting, his company is planning to import some fine cask conditioned ales at least four times a year. The first batch has just arrived. Moonraker, a barleywine/strong ale and Monkey Wrench, an old/strong ale are now (or were) available at Mug's.

Traditionally difficult to transport and given to having a short shelf life, Fisher said that B. United expects these cask beers to arrive in ship-shape and stay in good condition for nearly three weeks on tap.

They have selected only a few small, award winning British breweries to provide the 15 casks each. The casks, or firkins (9 imperial gallon casks), are picked up fresh and shipped in refrigerated containers maintained at 48 degrees. Time from Brewery to bar is expected to be only two to three weeks. Fisher said that another step in extending shelf-life was not to add the finings until they reached the US.

The beers' destinations, also carefully selected, are a few bars in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts that can maintain the casks' appropriate temperature and ensure clean cellars and lines. They don't necessarily need a beer engine, but they do need a gravity feed. Most importantly, staff must be knowledgeable and able to check the beers from time to time to ensure that the quality is maintained. It's best if they can turn out 80 pints in two or three days.

You can find B. United's cask ales at Mug's, DBA, The Gingerman, Sparky's and Blind Tiger. Here's a listing of some of the British ales you can expect to see in the area. Enjoy!

All are CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale) category winners.

New Malted Barley T-Shirts!

Be the first on your block to have the latest edition of the Malted Barley T-Shirt. It comes in gray with a small picture of Salty in the "Yo Brooklyn" mode and a logo on the front, and then, on the back, is a complete, tabloid-sized reproduction of the off-flavor comic strip used in our competition in February. The shirt is only $15 ($25 for 2) if you pick it up at a meeting or a Hop, Skip and Brew. Otherwise, order it via the mail (add $5 for postage & handling, from Hop Skip and Brew, 50-07 Metropolitan Avenue, Ridgewood, Queens, NY.

The Next Meeting of The Malted Barley Appreciation Society will be on Wednesday, November 11, at 7:30 p.m. The guests for this month’s meeting will be the brewers of Hansens Lambic, of Dworp, Belgium! As usual, the meeting will be held at Mug's Ale House, 125 Bedford Avenue in Brooklyn. See you there!

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