Malting Process and Malt Extract

Malting

This whole process takes about seven to eight days and is carried out in buildings called the maltings. Which are usually separate from the brewery.
Malting starts with the process of steeping, or wetting the barley. Extra water is drained off and the grain gently aerated. Water and air together produce the right conditions for germination. Traditionally, germination was carried out on a flat concrete or tiled floor, Where the temperature of the grain was watched carefully as rootlets began to grow. To regulate this temperature the old - time maltster's main control was from opening or closing windows depending which way the wind was blowing! Also the malting barley had to be sprayed with water, and turned regularly with a wooden shovel. This controlled the heat retained in the grain bed, as well as keeping the rootlets from binding tightly together.
Modern malting takes place in a form of large drum box equipped with a mechanical screw to turn the grain. Forced ventilation allows air to circulate freely through the bed, controlling its temperature. If the grain is too cold it will germinate far too slowly, while if it gets hot then long shoots appear, which burn up too much of the barley's supply of starch.
As germination starts, substances called enzymes are released which act on the starch so that the brewing process can later convert it to fermentable sugar. It takes around four to five days to complete this stage, known as modification you can read more about enzymes if you like in appendix one.
Once modified, the malt is dried by kilning with hot air, which not only stops the germination process but also adds flavour and colour to the final brew. Barley growth has now stopped but the enzymes survive the kilning process, for action later on in the brewery.

 

Malt Extract

The next step in the brewing process is to extract the malt sugar from the barley. To do this, brewers use a process called mashing, which initiates the further breakdown of starches. Brewers boil the grain in precisely heated water, dissolving the sugars and pulling them from the solid casing. The liquid produced from this is called wort. Wort is then concentrated by using heat or a vacuum procedure to pull the water from the mixture.

The concentrated wort is called malt extract. The extract will then enter the fermenting process where yeast catalyzes the malt extract's transformation into alcohol. Brewer's have the option of using a liquid or dry form of malt extract. Each has its pros and cons, so the choice is solely dependent on the individual brewer's preferences.

Liquid malt extract is a thick syrup. Some brewers choose only to work with the liquid form of malt extract, because they feel it works best for the result they wish to achieve. Also, it requires one less processing step, so it's appealing to those who favor the purest form of product available. However, it's very sticky and therefore, messier to work with, has a shorter shelf life, and some feel the results are just as good with the dry version.

Dry malt extract is dried with a special process that removes almost all the moisture content. The biggest advantage to opting for the dry version is ease of use. Though dry malt extract can become stickier when in contact with water, it's great for measuring and requires very little cleanup compared to the liquid version. It has a much longer shelf life than the liquid version. Disadvantages include a higher product cost due to the extra processing steps, and a more limited list of varieties available.