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Ingredients For Brewing Beer - Malt Extract In The Process of Beer Making

November 18, 2011 | Comments: 0 | Views: 83

One of the main ingredients for brewing beer is malt, specifically malt extract. We have all heard of candy malt and heard references to 1950s malt shops, which in our mind is more like a modern day milk shake. However, when it comes to ingredients for brewing beer, just about anyone can list them as hops, malt, and grains. Therefore, as part of our quest to become more familiar with all of the ingredients for brewing beer, it's a good idea to explore more deeply what exactly the malt in beer is all about.

When you hear the word malt in regards to the brewing process, the reference is actually to malted barley. The process of beer making is really the outcome of fermenting the sugars from malted barley. Malt extract is the outcome of a process called malting, which starts with pure barley grain, the same grain you might use to make muffins or barley soup.

Preparing The Barley

The process of beer making starts with the malting process. This process begins with jumpstarting the germination process, which is nature's way of preparing the barley plants to grow from seeds into sprouts.

Malting The Barley

The barley is soaked and then immediately drained so the seeds will begin to germinate. The part of the germination process that is interesting to brewers happens when certain enzymes are released by germination. These enzymes are powerful chemicals that convert proteins and starches into sugars, which become food to power the germination and growth of the plant. It is those enzymes that the brewer is looking to capture.

The entire objective of malting is to activate those enzymes in the seeds and release them so the brewer can capture them for the brewing process. Therefore, as soon as the germination process starts, the grain is quickly dried so the enzymes are captured in that raw state to be processed into malted barley.

Extracting The Malt

After the malting process is complete, the brewer will crush the malted barley and soak it in hot water for a period of time, which stimulates and activates the enzymes and puts them to work again. The sugars are then used to make malt extract, which we use to make beer.

Malt extract comes in both liquid (LME) and dry (DME) forms. They are pretty much identical, except for the fact that the LME is about 20% water. Therefore, 4 pounds of DME is roughly equivalent to 5 pounds of LME. In addition, LME is sometimes hopped, but I recommend purchasing only un-hopped extract and adding your own hops.

The use of malt extract takes a lot of work out of the process of beer making. The learning process for this, as with anything, is a series of stepping-stones. You have to crawl before you can walk. Consider this brewing with training wheels! It's still a fun ride, but you have to stay on the sidewalk for a while. However, there are limitless options for where you can go once your training wheels come off.

I feel the need to mention here that some home brewers strictly brew with malt extract as one of their main ingredients for brewing beer and never venture into the world of all-grain brewing. You can use malt extract to make any beer style imaginable. Combined with hops, specialty grains and adjuncts, the sky is the limit.

For more information on brewing beer and a FREE GIFT, please visit

Tony Dawson is a home brewer and the founder of

Source: EzineArticles
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