In a quick follow up to yesterday’s post, I thought I’d just say something about how they make crystal malt because the technique used is rather different.
To make crystal malt, instead of kilning the malt at the end of germination, they actually steep it again briefly to get its water content up to 50%. They then transfer it to a special roasting drum. After a brief period of heating at 50°C to drive off the surface moisture the drum is closed and the temperature is raised to saccharification temperature 65°C. At this temperature the enzymes within each kernel breakdown and convert the starches to sugar leaving clear sweet wort locked inside. Then the temperature is taken higherto 100°C or more, depending on how dark we want the crystal to be (120°–160°C), to crystalise the sugars within each grain. Crystal malt is called crystal malt because of the crystaline structure of the endosperm when you cut the grain open. Amazing isn’t it? Because crystal malt has already been ‘mashed’ in this way at the malt house, it has no enzymatic content of its own, but it also doesn’t need to be mashed later by the brewer, which is why homebrewers who use malt extracts can use crystal malt to flavour and colour their beers.