Most brewing geeks when describing a beer will often interchangeably use ‘malt’ and ‘barley’ – but what do they really mean?
Barley itself is the grain – but to turn it into malt takes a special process.
Malting is where you heat and wet the grain so that it breaks down into easy to eat starches. You’ll need to break down the grain (yet again) into liquid sugars before brewing, but thankfully that’s the most complicated process in brewing. We like brewing with extract because it has already been converted so it’s ready to start brewing with. Saves a heap of time and using quality stuff keeps all the flavour, too.
So back to beer geeks, when they say barley or malt, they mean the grain backbone of the beer you’re drinking. Light, dark, sweet, and smoky they add a lot of character. We’ll cover some more grains and what you can brew with them soon. If you haven’t seen already, check out our post on caramalt.