We talk about being a “malt-driven” brewery, but what exactly is malt? Malted barley is the base of beer, whether ale or lager. Barley was first domesticated thousands of years ago in both Mesopotamia and Ethiopia. It was for a flavorful mildly alcoholic beverage we call beer these early farmers were growing this crop. Over the years, generation after generation bred and improved varieties of barley to make them more suitable for the brewing of beer.
In order to use barley for beer, it must be “malted.” In simple terms, barley grains are treated with water so that they germinate. The grains start to sprout and are then dried to halt germination and generally roasted to some degree. This malted barley now just needs to be milled (not so fine as a flour) then steeped in hot water to extract the fermentable sugars that yeast will turn into alcohol.
The key to malting is to optimize the compounds that will feed the yeast. This cereal powerhouse contains carbohydrates, proteins, and enzymes. The malted barley also contributes the layered flavors that make beer so tasty.
When beer is brewed, a base malt accounts for over 60% of the grain bill. These malts are the workhorses and have the highest levels of enzymes needed to convert starches into fermentable sugars in the mash.
Lightly roasted pale malts are among the most widely used by craft brewers making ales. We favor a few old-school varieties.
Smaller amounts of various specialty malts are used to achieve specific effects. Here are just a few.
There are many more base and specialty malts with a wide range of colors and flavors. Come down to the pub and taste how these malts create such delicious flavors. Maybe you can even talk malt with one of our talented brewers. Every beer you sip honors a long history of agriculture, brewing, and civilization itself. Cheers!
The Civil Blog has returned. It is predominantly authored by Civil Life Barman, Dr. Patrick Hurley, who can be found tending to our bar patrons on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. He is also responsible for tending to our draft lines, which is recognized as one of our most important tasks. Special guest writers will appear from time to time. We hope reading this blog will give you much insight about the Civil Life and most importantly help you understand a bit more about all of us that work here and the beers we put our hearts into.