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Malt Profile: Crystal/Caramel Malts

November 07, 2011 | Comments: 0 | Views: 97


Caramel Malt and Crystal Malt are two different, yet interchangeable names for similarly made products. They are often responsible for sweet, malty, nutty, caramel, burnt sugar, and toffee flavors in beers, among others. These malts typically range in color from 10 to 120° Lovibond. However, Special B, which is a caramel malt, can range from roughly 200 to 300° Lovibond. As varied as these malts can be, they all have a commonality that groups them together into the same category. That commonality is the way in which they are processed.


A typical malt will be malted, dried, and then kilned. Crystal malts are different in that after malting, but before kilning, they are stewed in water at temperatures around 150°F. This process is essentially a mash that occurs at the maltster rather than in the brew house. During this process, enzymes convert starches to sugars. What differentiates this from a mash is that since the grain is whole and not crushed, the converted sugars stay in the hull rather than escaping into the surrounding water. Once dried, the grain looks similar to a crystal of sugar, hence the name crystal malt.

Brewing With Crystal Malts

Crystal malts can be used to add flavors ranging from light and biscuity to rich and fruity. They also can aid in building body and improving head formation. Since crystal malts have such wide range of flavors and colors, they are used in the brewing of many different beer styles. Typically, around 10% or less of a recipe will consist of crystal malts. However, there are many exceptions to that.

Since conversion to sugars has already occurred at the maltster, it is not necessary to add these malts to the mash. They can be steeped prior to the boil. This makes them the perfect steeping grain for extract brewers to use to add complexity to their beers without having to perform a mash.


Here is a tasty recipe that makes use of one of my favorite crystal malts, Special B. This has a deep red color, a pronounced malt flavor with hints of dark cherry, and an upfront pine and citrus hop presence. It's very tasty!

Batch Size: 5 gallons Pre-boil volume: 7 gallons

14 lbs. 2-Row Malt 2 lbs. Special B

0.85 oz. Chinook: At 60 minutes 1.0 oz. Cascade: At 45 minutes 1.0 oz. Cascade: At 15 minutes 0.85 oz Chinook: Dry Hop

Dry English Ale Yeast

Original Gravity will be roughly 1.074 Alcohol will be roughly 7% IBU will be roughly 70.

Matt Morgan is an avid home brewer with a passion for sharing the world's greatest hobby. Get more information on Matt's blog at

Source: EzineArticles
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