A base malt makes up the majority of your malt bill, and determines the broad strokes of your flavour profile. Base malts are produced using standard steeping, germinating and kilning techniques. Base malts tend to be pale on the malt colour wheel and contain sufficient enzyme potential to convert their own starches into sugar. All base malts can be used up to 100% of your malt bill.
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Base malts are usually made from barley, although occasionally a recipe will call for wheat malt or rye malt as the base. A base malt needs to have good fermentability, because it is going to provide the bulk of your fermentable sugars that will be converted into alcohol. Specialty malts are often added in much smaller quantities to introduce complexity to the flavour, colour and body of the beer. Generally speaking, base malts are lighter coloured and you can darken a beer by adding dark specialty malts, however you can’t lighten it.
The malts most commonly used by craft brewers as base malts are Pale Ale, Ale, Mild Ale, Vienna, Pilsner and Munich.
Ale malt tends to be well-to-highly modified and optimised for use in single temperature infusion mashes. Ale malt colour range is typically between 4.5-7 EBC, and makes a great base for IPAs and Ales – in fact all but the lightest coloured beers.
Pilsner malt is light in colour, with the colour range typically between 2.5 – 4.5 EBC. It has a delicate flavour that makes it a popular base malt for light-coloured Lagers (including Pilsners), and some of the lighter Pale Ale styles.
Typically slightly darker than Ale malt, at 6-12 EBC, it contributes a rich orange colour to beer. Vienna tends to impart a slightly toasty, nutty flavour with some malt sweetness.
Munich malts cover a broad colour range from 12-28 EBC, with lighter versions offering a restrained, often elegant character. Enzymatic potential is low but still sufficient to convert as mash at 100%. Munich is often added to the malt grist in small amounts to fill out the malty profile of a beer.
You can buy base and specialty malts in customised quantities from Cryermalt, or we can blend a selection of malts in bulk bags. Please contact the team at Cryermalt today for help selecting and purchasing the right malt for your needs, or to enquire about opening an account with us.