Malting Process

What is Malt?

Malt is a cereal grain that's been allowed to grow under controlled conditions and then dried.  This process does a number of things to the grain.  It increases the amount of enzymes such as a-amylase which are used in the mashing process of brewing to convert starches into fermentable sugars. It increases the availability of the food reserves in the grain, and it alters the texture and flavor of the grain.
While malts bear a close visual resemblance to the commodity grains from which they are derived, malts have a high degree of useful functionality.  This functionality can be tailored to the malt's end use, be it in the production of beer, distilled spirits or vinegar.  It can also be used in the manufacture of breakfast cereals, baked goods, nutritional supplements, dog food and many other foodstuffs

The Malting Process consists of 3 stages which are steeping, germination, and kilning.

 

Steeping

The purpose of steeping is to increase the moisture in the grain from around 12% to approximately 45%.This is achieved through successive immersions and air rests over a period of 2-3 days.During this process, the grain begins to germinate and therefore produces heat and carbon dioxide.In the immersion cycles, the grain is immersed in water and air is blown through the wet grain to keep the level of dissolved oxygen in the water high enough so as to not stifle the developing embryos.In the air rests, the carbon dioxide is removed.

Due to the varying degree of moisture tolerance of the different grains, steeping is a crucial step in the malting process.When the steeping process is complete, all of the grain should be evenly hydrated and show signs of germination.

 

Germination

Germination is the second step in the malting process, where the wetted grain is allowed to grow under controlled conditions.During this step the internal structure of the grain is modified, sugars are produced from the grain’s starch stores and natural enzymes are developed within the grain kernel.

Once steeping is complete the hydrated grain is emptied into a compartment with a perforated floor (germination compartment).The grain is evenly distributed throughout the compartment and allowed to grow for another 3-6 days under controlled conditions.Over the course of the germination cycle the Maltster controls the atmospheric conditions by pulling fresh, humidified and temperature controlled air through the bed of grain at a known rate. The grain bed is also turned over regularly to prevent rootlets from matting and to keep the bed of grain loosely packed.Water can also be added to the germinating grain if necessary to achieve the desired level of growth or modification needed to produce the desired type of malt.

 

Kilning

Kilning is the third and final step of the malting process in which germination is halted and the final flavor and color profile are determined. Once the grain has been modified sufficiently in germination, the grain is loaded into a kiln where warm, dry air is passed through the grain bed to dry the grain from about 45% least 5% moisture.By varying the temperature of the applied air and the amount of air flow used, the Maltster can impart the desired flavor and color profiles desired for the malt’s end use.

The malting process normally takes about 6-10 days.While the process is highly automated to help ensure consistency of the finished malt, the art of the Maltster still plays an important role in the process.This blend of art and technology works harmoniously to ensure production of the best possible malt for each customer.