Grain: the lifeblood of beer. While barley is most common, the category of "grain" is as wide as it is intricate. This guide walks you through the types of grain you can use to make beer, and how to choose the right malted grains.
Click here to view the complete chart of beer grains.
Malt is grain that has been converted into sugar. That sugar is consumed by yeast to create alcohol; a process called fermentation. Grain becomes malt, which becomes beer.
There are a wide variety of malts that brewers can use, all of which fall into two broad categories: malts which can be steeped (good for extract brewing), and malts which need to be mashed (all-grain brewing required).
Base malts make up the majority of the grist in all-grain beer, and the variety is, frankly, astounding. Named based on the formation of corns on the barley stalk (2-row vs. 6-row), the variety (e.g., Maris Otter, Golden Promise, etc), or the region in which it was grown or malted. Includes:
- Barley malts: pale malt, Pilsner malt, Vienna malt, Munich malt, mild ale malt, and more
- Non-barley base malts like wheat malt and rye malt (more on these in "Other Malts")
- High-kilned malts: responsible for the dark, malty lagers of Europe and have also found a home in some ales because of their unique character. Munich and Vienna malts are the prime examples
- American base malt is generally mild and fairly neutral; British malts tend to be maltier, bready, and biscuit-like.
The European climate gives malts made from Continental barley a clean, "elegant" character. Pilsner malt has a soft, delicate maltiness that practically defines pale lagers. "High-kilned" (heated to a higher temperature at the end of the malting process) base are rof high-kilned malts, although mild ale malt belongs to this category too. The darker color lends these malts a more toasty, malty flavor than you get from lighter base malts.
Shop all base malts here.
Crystal malts are steep-able and generally used to add sweetness and color to both extract and all-grain brews. They're usually named based on color. As a general rule, the lighter-colored crystal malts are more "sweet," while darker crystal malts add roastiness or nuttiness in addition to sweetness.
On the extreme light end sit dextrin(e) malts. They also add dextrins, which bring body and a thicker mouthfeel. But broadly speaking, anything labeled crystal, caramel, or cara-something are crystal malts (with the exception of Weyermann® Carafa®).
Shop all caramel & crystal malts here.
Adjuncts are unmalted, starchy things (normally understood to be a cereal grain, but homebrewers have been known to use things like pumpkin and potatoes, too).
- Flaked barley and flaked oats
- Maize (corn)
- Torrified wheat
- ... and more - any starchy vegetable/grain can be an adjunct
Adjuncts don't have sugars available like crystal malts, so they can't be steeped for extract brewing. They also don't have enzymes like malted grains, so they need to be mashed with base malt to extract their sugars.
Shop all adjunct grains here.
Includes malts such as biscuit, amber, special roast, and aromatic malts. Usually used in low quantities to contribute unique flavor (half a pound or less for a 5 gallon batch).
- Biscuit malt contributes a light, "saltine cracker" flavor, while aromatic malt is deeper and maltier.
- Brown and amber malt are similarly toasted, but brown is darker and more toasty/bready and amber has less of a pretzel-like flavor.
- Victory malt is another light option that sits between biscuit and amber, with characteristics of both.
- Special roast is fairly unique and will impart a slightly darker, reddish color and has a fairly strong tangy, berry, deep flavor.
Shop all kilned malts here.
Roasted malts are any malts or grains that are roasted to a very high degree. Dark, deep, bready, delicious. Can be steeped for extract brewing or mashed for all-grain, and add a lot of complexity and color in very low quantities. The three most common varieties are:
- Black malt (sometimes called black patent malt), chocolate malt, and roasted barley.
- Weyermann® range of Carafa® malts
- Kiln-coffee malt
- Distaff cousins like de-bittered black malt and pale chocolate. Roasted malts can be steeped for extract brewing or mashed for all-grain, and add a lot of complexity and color in very low quantities.
Some brewers get gun shy about roasted malts, but fear not. Roasted malts are delicious, provided you don't go completely overboard: 10% (or roughly one pound in an average-gravity 5 gallon batch) is about the most you would usually use. Stay below this amount and it's hard to go wrong.
Shop all roasted malts here.
Some malts do not come from barley: oats, rye, wheat, etc. These malts are essentially processed like, and can be treated as, their barley cousins. The difference is in how they're crushed.
Wheat malt can be crushed at the same setting as barley malt, but you will want to test before running a whole batch's worth of rye malt or oat malt through a mill.
|Brewing Grain||Maltster||Region||Flavor Descriptors||Grain Type||Lovibond Rating||Diastatic Power|
|Bairds English Carastan Malt||Bairds||United Kingdom||caramel, toffee flavors, slight character of toasted bread||Caramel & Crystal Malted Grains||35|
|Bairds English Light Carastan Malt||Bairds||United Kingdom||pleasant toffee flavor, subtle bread and caramel notes||Caramel & Crystal Malted Grains||15|
|Best Malz German Munich Malt||Best Malz||Germany||smooth, deep maltiness||Base Malts, Lightly Kilned and Toasted||6.3||70|
|Best Malz German Pilsen Malt||Best Malz||Germany||bright, clean, full-bodied||Base Malts||1.9||76|
|Best Malz German Red X® Malt||Best Malz||Germany||fruits, passionfruit specifically||Base Malts||12||62|
|Briess 2-Row Brewers Malt||Briess||United States||clean, sweet, mild malty||Base Malts||1.8||140|
|Briess Aromatic Malt||Briess||United States||smooth, clean, rich intense malty||Lightly Kilned and Toasted||20||20|
|Briess Ashburne Mild Malt||Briess||United States||slighty sweet, subtle toasty||Base Malts||5.3||65|
|Briess Black Malt||Briess||United States||dry roasted, sharp to neutral||Roasted Malts||500|
|Briess Bonlander Munich Malt||Briess||United States||slightly sweet, rich malty||Base Malts, Lightly Kilned and Toasted||10||40|
|Briess Caramel 10L Malt||Briess||United States||Sweet, almost honey like||Caramel & Crystal Malted Grains||10|
|Briess Caramel 120L Malt||Briess||United States||Caramel, slight roasty/toastiness||Caramel & Crystal Malted Grains||120|
|Briess Caramel 20L Malt||Briess||United States||sweet, caramel||Caramel & Crystal Malted Grains||20|
|Briess Caramel 40L Malt||Briess||United States||caramel, sweet||Caramel & Crystal Malted Grains||40|
|Briess Caramel 60L Malt||Briess||United States||caramel, sweet||Caramel & Crystal Malted Grains||60|
|Briess Caramel 80L Malt||Briess||United States||caramel, burnt sugar, raisin||Caramel & Crystal Malted Grains||80|
|Briess Caramel 90L Malt||Briess||United States||caramel, burnt sugar, raisin||Caramel & Crystal Malted Grains||90|
|Briess Caramel Vienne 20L Malt||Briess||United States||Soft toffee, caramel, malty||Caramel & Crystal Malted Grains||20|
|Briess Carapils Malt||Briess||United States||gives impression of fullness||Caramel & Crystal Malted Grains||1.5|
|Briess Cherrywood Smoked Malt||Briess||United States||Rich, sweet smokiness||Base Malts, Lightly Kilned and Toasted||5||140|
|Briess Chocolate Malt||Briess||United States||Rich roasted, coffee, cocoa||Roasted Malts||350|
|Briess Goldpils® Vienna Malt||Briess||United States||Rich malty flavor, hint of biscuit||Base Malts||3.5||80|
|Briess Light Roasted Barley||Briess||United States||Coffee, intense bitter, dry||Roasted Malts||300|
|Briess Midnight Wheat Malt||Briess||United States||starts slightly sweet, hints of roasted flavor, finishes exceptionally clean||Roasted Malts||550|
|Briess Organic 2-Row Malt||Briess||United States||mild maltiness||Base Malts||1.8||140|
|Briess Organic C-120L Malt||Briess||United States||caramel, burnt sugar, raisin||Caramel & Crystal Malted Grains||120|
|Briess Organic C-20L Malt||Briess||United States||sweet, caramel||Caramel & Crystal Malted Grains||20|
|Briess Organic C-60L Malt||Briess||United States||caramel, sweet||Caramel & Crystal Malted Grains||60|
|Briess Organic Carapils Malt||Briess||United States||gives impression of fullness||Caramel & Crystal Malted Grains||1.5|
|Briess Organic Chocolate Malt||Briess||United States||roasted coffee, cocoa||Roasted Malts||350|
|Briess Organic Munich Malt||Briess||United States||rich maltiness||Base Malts, Lightly Kilned and Toasted||10||30|
|Briess Organic Roast Barley Malt||Briess||United States||Coffee, intense bitter, dry||Roasted Malts||300|
|Briess Pale Ale Malt||Briess||United States||hints of biscuit and nutlike flavors||Base Malts||3.5||85|
|Briess Pilsen Malt||Briess||United States||clean, sweet, delicatly malty||Base Malts||2.7||140|
|Briess Rye Malt||Briess||United States||spicy rye||Base Malts||3.7||105|
|Briess Special Roast Malt||Briess||United States||toasty, biscuity, sour, tangy||Lightly Kilned and Toasted||40|
|Briess Victory Malt||Briess||United States||bread-like, nutty, toasty||Lightly Kilned and Toasted||28|
|Canada Malting Pale Ale Malt||Canada Malting||Canada||toasty, biscuity||Base Malts||2.7|
|Canada Malting Wheat Malt||Canada Malting||Canada||soft wheat flavor||Base Malts||2.2|
|Cargill Salzgitter German Pilsner Malt||Crisp||Germany||clean, full-bodied base||Base Malts||1.6||110|
|Crisp English Amber Malt||Crisp||United Kingdom||biscuit, coffee||Lightly Kilned and Toasted||29|
|Crisp English Brown Malt||Crisp||United Kingdom||dark roasted flavor, slight bitterness||Roasted Malts||65|
|Crisp English Crystal 77L Malt||Crisp||United Kingdom||caramel sweetness, mouthfeel, roasty notes||Caramel & Crystal Malted Grains||77|
|Crisp English Pale Malt||Crisp||United Kingdom||balanced sweet, malty flavor||Base Malts||3||50|
|Crisp English Roasted Barley Malt||Crisp||United Kingdom||bitter, roasty||Roasted Malts||192|
|Crisp English Torrified Wheat||Crisp||United Kingdom||smooth, bready||Flaked & Unmalted Adjunct Grains||2|
|Dingemans Belgian Aromatic Malt||Dingemans||Belgium||Rich maltiness||Lightly Kilned and Toasted||38.1|
|Dingemans Belgian Biscuit Malt||Dingemans||Belgium||biscuity, 'saltine cracker' flavor||Lightly Kilned and Toasted||23.4|
|Dingemans Belgian Cara 8 Pils Malt||Dingemans||Belgium||light caramel||Caramel & Crystal Malted Grains||6||70|
|Dingemans Belgian Cara 20 (Caravienne) Malt||Dingemans||Belgium||light, sweet||Caramel & Crystal Malted Grains||19|
|Dingemans Belgian Debittered Black Malt||Dingemans||Belgium||mild dark malt flavor, harsh in high quantities||Roasted Malts||406.6|
|Dingemans Belgian Pale Ale Malt||Dingemans||Belgium||balanced, plain but makes a solid base||Base Malts||3|
|Dingemans Belgian Pilsner Malt||Dingemans||Belgium||clean, light flavor||Base Malts||1.7|
|Dingemans Belgian Cara 45 Malt||Dingemans||Belgium||rich, caramel-sweet aroma, full flavor||Caramel & Crystal Malted Grains||35.3|
|Dingemans Belgian Munich Malt||Dingemans||Belgium||sweet, slightly toasty||Base Malts, Lightly Kilned and Toasted||8.8|
|Dingemans Belgian Special B® Malt||Dingemans||Belgium||Sweet, caramel, dark fruit||Caramel & Crystal Malted Grains||116.8|
|Fawcett English Cara Malt||Fawcett||United Kingdom||light sweetness||Caramel & Crystal Malted Grains||12.2|
|Fawcett English Crystal Rye Malt||Fawcett||United Kingdom||Dry liquorice toffee flavour||Caramel & Crystal Malted Grains||75|
|Fawcett English Dark Crystal Malt||Fawcett||United Kingdom||sweet, grainy, malty, slightly roasty||Caramel & Crystal Malted Grains||85|
|Fawcett English Medium Crystal Malt||Fawcett||United Kingdom||deep caramel, grainy||Caramel & Crystal Malted Grains||45|
|Fawcett English Oat Malt||Fawcett||United Kingdom||Enhance body, flavour of dark beers, sweet kernels||Base Malts||1.9|
|Fawcett English Optic Malt||Fawcett||United Kingdom||sweet, flavourful worts||Base Malts||2.7|
|Fawcett English Pale Chocolate Malt||Fawcett||United Kingdom||mild chocolate/coffee||Roasted Malts||188.1|
|Fawcett English Pearl Malt||Fawcett||United Kingdom||sweet, flavourful worts||Base Malts||2.7|
|Flaked Barley||Adjunct||United States||grainy, creamy||Adjunct, Flaked & Unmalted Adjunct Grains||1.8|
|Flaked Maize||Adjunct||United States||neutral, moderate sweetness||Adjunct, Flaked & Unmalted Adjunct Grains||1.5|
|Flaked Oats||Adjunct||United States||creamy, full-bodied||Adjunct, Flaked & Unmalted Adjunct Grains||1.6|
|Flaked Rice||Adjunct||United States||leave beers drier||Adjunct, Flaked & Unmalted Adjunct Grains||1.3|
|Flaked Rye||Adjunct||United States||dry, crisp, slightly spicy||Adjunct, Flaked & Unmalted Adjunct Grains||3.9|
|Flaked Wheat||Adjunct||United States||increases head retention and body||Adjunct, Flaked & Unmalted Adjunct Grains||1.7|
|Franco-Belges Belgian Kiln Coffee Malt||Franco-Belges||Belgium||coffee||Roasted Malts||62.4|
|Franco-Belges Belgian Pilsen Malt||Franco-Belges||Belgium||clean, light flavor||Base Malts||1.7|
|Franco-Belges Belgian Vienna Malt||Franco-Belges||Belgium||light caramel aroma and flavor||Base Malts, Lightly Kilned and Toasted||3.1|
|Gambrinus Canadian ESB Pale Malt||Gambrinus||Canada||Slightly sweeter, richer malt flavor than standard 2-row||Base Malts||3.5|
|Gambrinus Canadian Honey Malt||Gambrinus||Canada||intense malt sweetness, honey||Lightly Kilned and Toasted||25|
|MaltEurop American 2-Row Pale Malt||MaltEurop||United States||Sweet malty aromas and very subtle nutty flavors||Base Malts||2||140|
|Malting Company of Ireland Stout Malt||Malting Company of Ireland||Ireland||mild flavored malt, adds a smoothness and depth||Base Malts||1.8||73|
|Mecca Grade Lamonta (American Pale) Malt||Mecca Grade||United States||sweet, slightly biscuity||Base Malts||2.8||150|
|Mecca Grade Metolius (Munich-style) Malt||Mecca Grade||United States||warming malt and toasted, graham cracker||Base Malts||8.7||65|
|Mecca Grade Opal 22 (Graham, Cocoa) Malt||Mecca Grade||United States||lightly-toasted, graham and chocolate flavor||Caramel & Crystal Malted Grains||15.3||75|
|Mecca Grade Opal 44 (Caramelized, Toffee) Malt||Mecca Grade||United States||sweet, moderately-toasted, with hints of chocolate and raisin||Caramel & Crystal Malted Grains||30||45|
|Mecca Grade Pelton (Pilsner-style) Malt||Mecca Grade||United States||slightly grassy||Base Malts||1.9||180|
|Mecca Grade Rimrock (Vienna-Style Spring Rye) Malt||Mecca Grade||United States||warm bread flavor with notes of graham and honey||Base Malts||4.8||140|
|Mecca Grade Shaniko (White Winter Wheat) Malt||Mecca Grade||United States||super-rich and creamy cloud of flavor, cookie dough||Base Malts||3.1||150|
|Mecca Grade Vanora (Vienna-style) Malt||Mecca Grade||United States||aromatically-rich, contributing slight walnut flavors||Base Malts||5.9||110|
|Rahr 2-Row Malt||Rahr||United States||clean, smooth||Base Malts||2.1||138|
|Rahr 6-Row Malt||Rahr||United States||neutral, slightly grainy||Base Malts||2.4||163|
|Rahr Pale Ale Malt||Rahr||United States||slightly toasty and full||Base Malts||4||109|
|Rahr Premium Pilsner Malt||Rahr||United States||light, smooth||Base Malts||2||131|
|Rahr Red Wheat Malt||Rahr||United States||slight tartness to its flavor not present in white wheat||Base Malts||1.8||163|
|Rahr Unmalted Wheat||Rahr||United States||strong grain flavor||Flaked & Unmalted Adjunct Grains||1.5|
|Rahr White Wheat Malt||Rahr||United States||Full, slightly sweet||Base Malts||2.5||171|
|Rice Hulls||Adjunct||United States||N/A||Adjunct, Flaked & Unmalted Adjunct Grains||0|
|Simpsons English Golden Promise Malt||Simpsons||United Kingdom||mellow, sweet, clean||Base Malts||2.2||75|
|Simpsons English Peated Malt||Simpsons||United Kingdom||intense peat smoke character||Base Malts||1.5|
|Simpsons English Crystal Light Malt||Simpsons||United Kingdom||clean, mild sweetness and caramel and toffee flavours||Caramel & Crystal Malted Grains||42|
|Simpsons English DRC™ Malt||Simpsons||United Kingdom||complex caramel and dried fruit notes||Caramel & Crystal Malted Grains||113.1|
|Simpsons English Black Malt||Simpsons||United Kingdom||roasty, black||Roasted Malts||562.7|
|Simpsons English Chocolate Malt||Simpsons||United Kingdom||bittersweet chocolate, roasty||Roasted Malts||434.1|
|Simpsons English Coffee Malt||Simpsons||United Kingdom||rich coffee aroma, warmth and depth of flavor||Roasted Malts||200|
|Simpsons English Extra Dark Crystal Malt||Simpsons||United Kingdom||burnt sugar, dark fruit||Caramel & Crystal Malted Grains||187.9|
|Simpsons English Maris Otter Malt||Simpsons||United Kingdom||nutty, deep maltiness||Base Malts||2.4||75|
|Simpsons English Golden Naked Oats Malt||Simpsons||United Kingdom||light caramel, creamy finish||Caramel & Crystal Malted Grains||5.4|
|Warminster English Floor Malted Maris Otter Malt||Warminster||United Kingdom||full, rich character||Base Malts||3|
|Weyermann Barke® German Munich Malt||Weyermann||Germany||richly malt-aromatic, notes of honey and biscuit||Base Malts, Lightly Kilned and Toasted||7.8|
|Weyermann Barke® German Pilsner Malt||Weyermann||Germany||intense malt aromas||Base Malts||1.8|
|Weyermann Barke® German Vienna Malt||Weyermann||Germany||intensely malt-sweet, gentle notes of honey and nuts||Base Malts||3.3|
|Weyermann® German Abbey Malt||Weyermann||Germany||pronounced maltiness, honey notes||Lightly Kilned and Toasted||45|
|Weyermann® German Acidulated Malt||Weyermann||Germany||sour||Base Malts||3.2|
|Weyermann® German Bohemian Pilsner Malt||Weyermann||Czech Republic||traditional, Bohemian-style malt flavors||Base Malts||2.2|
|Weyermann® German Carafa I Malt||Weyermann||Germany||deeper aroma for dark beers||Roasted Malts||350|
|Weyermann® German Carafa II Malt||Weyermann||Germany||deeper aroma for dark beers||Roasted Malts||425|
|Weyermann® German Carafa III Malt||Weyermann||Germany||deeper aroma for dark beers||Roasted Malts||550|
|Weyermann® German Carafoam Malt||Weyermann||Germany||delicate maltiness, improved body||Caramel & Crystal Malted Grains||4.5|
|Weyermann® German Carahell Malt||Weyermann||Germany||full, round malt flavor||Caramel & Crystal Malted Grains||10|
|Weyermann® German Caramunich I Malt||Weyermann||Germany||sweet malty aroma and flavor||Caramel & Crystal Malted Grains||36|
|Weyermann® German Caramunich II Malt||Weyermann||Germany||toasty, sweet malt||Caramel & Crystal Malted Grains||45|
|Weyermann® German Caramunich III Malt||Weyermann||Germany||toasty, intense maltiness||Caramel & Crystal Malted Grains||59.5|
|Weyermann® German CaraRed Malt||Weyermann||Germany||full body||Caramel & Crystal Malted Grains||20|
|Weyermann® German CaraWheat Malt||Weyermann||Germany||wheaty, caramel||Caramel & Crystal Malted Grains||50|
|Weyermann® German Chocolate Rye Malt||Weyermann||Germany||roasty, spicy||Roasted Malts||250|
|Weyermann® German Dark Munich Malt||Weyermann||Germany||strong malt flavor, deep color||Base Malts, Lightly Kilned and Toasted||9|
|Weyermann® German Dark Wheat Malt||Weyermann||Germany||sweet, wheaty||Base Malts||17|
|Weyermann® German Dehusked Carafa I Malt||Weyermann||Germany||smooth, slight roastyness||Roasted Malts||350|
|Weyermann® German Dehusked Carafa II Malt||Weyermann||Germany||smooth, slight roastyness||Roasted Malts||425|
|Weyermann® German Dehusked Carafa III Malt||Weyermann||Germany||smooth, slight roastyness||Roasted Malts||525|
|Weyermann® German Floor Malted Bohemian Pale Wheat||Weyermann||Czech Republic||creamt mouthfeel, mild sweetness||Base Malts||2.2|
|Weyermann® German Floor Malted Bohemian Pilsner||Weyermann||Czech Republic||traditional, Bohemian-style malt flavors||Base Malts||2.1|
|Weyermann® German Vienna Malt||Weyermann||Germany||full bodied, smooth||Base Malts, Lightly Kilned and Toasted||3.3|
|Weyermann® German Melanoidin Malt||Weyermann||Germany||intense maltiness||Lightly Kilned and Toasted||70|
|Weyermann® German Oak-Smoked Pale Wheat Malt||Weyermann||Germany||finest oak smoke aroma and taste, notes of vanilla and honey||Base Malts||5|
|Weyermann® German Pale Ale Malt||Weyermann||Germany||traditionally clean, smooth||Base Malts||3.2|
|Weyermann® German Pale Wheat Malt||Weyermann||Germany||wheaty||Base Malts||2.2|
|Weyermann® German Rye Malt||Weyermann||Germany||typical rye aroma, notes of bread||Base Malts||3.3|
|Weyermann® German Smoked Malt||Weyermann||Germany||smooth smokeyness||Base Malts||3.2|