Enjoying a nice, cold beer is a pastime that dates back in time. And while the brewing process has changed and evolved, one key ingredient has remained the same: malt.
Most people tend to think of malt beverages as being synonymous with beer. And while it’s true that beer is the most popular type of malt beverage, there are many different types of malt beverages out there.
So, what exactly is a malt beverage?
A malt beverage is any drink made with barley malt and water. This simple definition encompasses various popular drinks, including beer, ale, lager, stout, and porter. Malt is a type of grain that has been sprouted and then dried. It’s used in brewing to add flavor, body, and color to the final product.
While malt is the key ingredient in all malt beverages, each type of drink will use different proportions from other ingredients.
This article will explore how malt beverages came about, the processes involved when making them, the different types, and their key differences. Whether you’re a beer lover or looking to branch out and try something new, we’ve got you covered.
How Malt Beverages Came To Be
Malt beverages have been around for centuries. Malt production began in the medieval era. During this time, malt was made by soaking barley in water until it began to sprout.
The germination process releases enzymes that would convert the starch in the grain into sugar. The malt would then be dried in kilns to stop the germination process.
In the modern era, malt is still made similarly. However, the process is more controlled and refined.
The barley is soaked in water for a set amount of time and then heated to a specific temperature to ensure the enzymes are activated.
Malt’s drinkability and nutritional value have made it a popular choice among cultures in the past and present. New technology and mass production have allowed it to brew large quantities of beer quickly and efficiently.
This has resulted in a boom of breweries and taverns, popular gathering places for people to drink and socialize.
What Constitutes a Malt Beverage?
The key ingredient in all malt beverages is, of course, malt. Malt is essential in brewing because it provides fermented sugar to create alcohol.
Different types of malt can be used in brewing, including barley, wheat, and rye. The type of malt used will impact the final product’s flavor, color, and body.
In addition to malt, water is another essential ingredient in all malt beverages. Fruits, spices, and other flavorings may be added to the brew, depending on the type of malt beverage being made.
For example, the fruit may be added to wheat beers, while spices are commonly found in stouts and porters.
The Process of Making Malt Beverages
The brewing process for malt beverages generally follows these steps:
- Malting: The grain is soaked in water until it begins germinating. This activates enzymes that convert the starch in the grain into sugar.
- Mashing: This mixes the malt with hot water to release the sugars. This mixture, called mash, is then strained to separate the liquid from the solids.
- Lautering: This process separates the liquid from the mash. You can do this by draining it off or filtering it through a bed of crushed grain.
- Boiling: The liquid from the lautering step, now called wort, is boiled with hops. Hops are a flower that adds bitterness, flavor, and aroma to the beer.
- Fermenting: The wort is cooled and then transferred to a fermentation vessel, where yeast is added. The yeast consumes the sugar in the wort and produces alcohol and carbon dioxide. The carbon dioxide is released from the fermentation vessel, and the alcohol remains in the beer.
Types of Malt Beverages
There are many different types of malt beverages, each with its unique flavor profile. Malt beverages come in various colors, from light to dark, and can be sweet or bitter.
The different types of malt beverages include beer, ale, lager, stout, and porter. Flavored malt beverages are also becoming increasingly popular.
Let’s take a closer look at each one.
Beer is the most popular type of malt beverage. It’s made with water, yeast, hops, and malt, whereas the brewing process involves fermenting the sugars in malt to produce alcohol.
Beer can be either light or dark, depending on the malt used. Beer is usually carbonated and has a moderate alcohol content, around 5% ABV.
Ale is a type of beer that is brewed using top-fermenting yeast. This yeast ferments at warmer temperatures, producing a sweeter, fuller-bodied beer.
Ale has a higher alcohol content than beer and is often darker in color.
Lager is a type of beer that is brewed using bottom-fermenting yeast. This yeast ferments at cooler temperatures, producing a crisp, clean-tasting beer.
Lager is usually lighter in color than ale and has a lower alcohol content.
Stout is a type of beer that is dark and full-bodied, with a strong malt flavor. It is brewed using roasted malt, which gives it its distinctive color.
Stout is usually high in alcohol content and is often served on nitro, which gives it a creamy texture.
A full-bodied, dark beer porter is similar to stout but has a more complex flavor. It is brewed using chocolate malt, which gives it its distinctive color.
Porter is also high in alcohol content.
Flavored Malt Beverages
Flavored malt beverages are a relatively new invention and are becoming increasingly popular. These beverages are malt-based but often have fruit or other flavors added.
The most popular type of flavored malt beverage is hard cider, made by fermenting apples. Other popular flavors include grape, cherry, raspberry, and strawberry.
Malt beverages are a type of alcoholic drink that is made by fermenting grain. There are many different types of malt beverages, each with its unique flavor profile.
Malting, mashing, lautering, boiling, and fermenting are used to make malt beverages. The most common malt beverages are beer, ale, lager, stout, and porter. Flavored malt beverages are also becoming increasingly popular.