How to Make Malt
Maltmaking process is the beginning of making many alcoholic beverages starting with AL and ending with whiskey.
Malt or malt extract is something that brewers used to make by themselves but with the dividing of various jobs it became cheaper to buy the ready-made malt prepared by a Maltster. The maltmaking process itself is rather simple because all it the sprouting of seeds from certain grain producing plants. The most common ones used in the brewing process are barley or rye although other grains can be used such as wheat, corn, rice or potatoes. The Maltster uses barley that is well rounded and firm. The maltmaking process is performed so that sprouting the barley changes its starch into sugar.
The first step in this process is to soak the barley in a tub of water. After about an hour the good grains will sink to the bottom of the water and the grains that will not germinate or are damaged will float on the surface. Remove the floating grains from the surface and discard them or use them for animal feed. Once the barley is well soaked and soft it is spread out evenly on a smooth wooden floor forming a layer from six to eight cm thick. During this process the sprouting barley has to germinate for a week to ten days. The finished sprouts are about two thirds the length of the grain when finished. Once it has germinated the sprouts are put on a floor to dry in a layer 2 to 3 cm thick. This layer is turned over seven to nine times a day with a rake until malted grains are thoroughly dry.
The next step is roasting the sprouts. This is done by placing the sprouts in a container with a screen bottom and forcing a current of hot air out through the sprouts. There are several different grades of roasting that can be done. These range from light, medium, dark and black. The different colors are produced by using different temperatures the lowest of which is about the boiling point of water, and the highest which produces black malt is about 350°C. Black malt is used in making some of the heavier English such as Porter and Stout. The lighter colored balls are used for different purposes but most of them are made into beer. This is also the beginning process for making different kinds of whiskey depending upon the grain or grains malted.
The next step in making malt is called mashing. Here the grain that has been sprouted is ground into mash after the rootlet’s have been winnowed out of the finished the match by directing a current of air through the sprouts that literally blows the rootlets away. For small-scale use you can grind the sprouts with a meat grinder using a fine cutting head on the grinder.
The mash is placed into a kettle of boiling water dissolves the contained sugar. The residue left from this process is quite rich in protein and makes very good cattle feed. What we have now is called wort and has many different uses in making alcoholic beverages ranging from ale to whiskey.
The dissolved sugar is filtered from the solids which are discarded. The discarded portion is often used for animal food. To get malt extract the sugar water is evaporated into a thick liquid or a dry rosinous mass. Usually the excess water is evaporated commercially in a vacuum pan although it can also be done in a common kettle. All you need is time and patience.
You’ll have to experiment with sprouting barley before you make a full-sized batch to get a feel for the process.