Roasting and Smoking Your Own Specialty Malts

Performing your own toasting/roasting of malt is actually fairly straightforward, and allows you to form malts unobtainable from commercial sources to provide unique flavors and aromas in your beers. Depending on which malts you have access to will determine if this is worth the effort, but it’s easy to try and requires no specialised equipment providing you have access to an oven and a baking tray.

You are recreating the conditions, essentially, in an industrial kiln or roaster. It is benficial to know your oven thermostat is correct, but as long as you use the same oven every time it’s irrelevant. Toaster ovens can be more unpredictable, so keep a watch on them for burning as they can heat up rather unexpectedly.

Not quite instant beer, but extract in liquid or dry form streamlines the brewing process which is ideal for new brewers.

For basic toasting, spread uncrushed Pilsner or pale malt on a baking tray and place into a preheated oven (use a 25°F/14°C or lower setting with convection), and let them roast. Keep checking them every five minutes or so, paying attention to the aroma. Crack open the malt and observe the colour inside, as the husks brown slower than the contents. Using a spatula, turn the malt approximately every ten minutes. Move out onto a cool pan or plate to cool the malt quickly so it doesn’t continue to get darker. Keep the following in mind:

Moisture Level Of The Malt Is Vital For Good Flavour

Damper malts will toast with caramelly character, whilst drier malts will lean toward the toasty side. Therefore if you want a more caramel flavour, soak your malt for 4 to 8 hours in de-chlorinated water prior to toasting.

Toast By Aroma, Not Colour

Malt will always produce a much darker beer than it looks. If you break it open and look inside, brown malt is hardly even a pinkish copper colour, it’s definitely not brown.

Toasted Malt Needs To Cure Before Use

The kilning procedure forms lots of harsh, unstable chemicals which will give your beer an ashtray aroma unless give them time to disperse. A couple of weeks in a paper bag usually does the job.

Beware The Harsh Zone

Look at the malt colour wheel you will find a gap amid 75 and 200°L/150 and 400°EBC for noncaramel malts. Malts located in this colour range are fairly pungent and pretty foul, so generally, restrict your efforts to colours lower than 75°L/150°EBC; this means malts which are a pinkish-copper colour inside. Home-style coffee roaster can be used to produce dark malts, however these are challenging to make in a household oven.

Smoking malt is similar to making barbecue, minus the meat—low and slow does the job. A barbecue smoker, particularly the electric ones which can run at temperatures below 200°F/93°C, are perfect. Higher than that and you will get some toasting in addition to smoke, might be beneficial or not, depending on what you are trying to achieve.

If you want to smoke your malt, you’ll need to construct screened frames from wood and a bronze window screen to keep the malt in the smoker. Time is a very important factor and will depend on many things; usually you want to be in the range of 1 to 4 hours for most smoked malts. A huge range of different wood chips can be used, perhaps with the addition of herbs and spices such as rosemary or allspice, so you can generate lots of exceptional aromas for your smoked beer. Similar to toasting, the aroma will be a better smoother if you wait a week or two between smoking and brewing.