Specialty Malts

Specialty Malts add flavour, colour and body to your beer and their great advantage is that,  unlike ordinary pale malt, they do not have to be mashed. You can simply add them to your brewpot and all the necessary goodness will be extracted that way.
British home brewing practice appears to involve leaving the specialty grains in the brew pot while boiling the whole lot. The danger with this method is that by boiling the husks of the grains, you will extract the tannins, which will give the finished beer an astringent quality. This astringency will not necessarily stay in the beer and will probably mellow out over a period of ageing, but you will have to wait more than several weeks before you can drink the beer.
The Americans, on the other hand put the grains in the brew pot but remove them before the boil starts, thus extracting all the goodness from the grains but none of the tannins. There are at least three ways in which you can do this. First of all, you can put your specialty grains in the brew pot just as the water is coming to the boil.
As soon as it boils, using a small strainer, lift the grain husks out of the pot and throw them away. A variation on this method is to use a smaller pot in conjunction with your brew pot. In a smaller pot you put about 1 litre of water, add the specialty grains, and bring slowly to the boil. When this pot of water nears boiling point, you simply pick it up and strain the liquid into your brew pot, leaving the grains in your strainer. The third method is the tea-bag method. Here s where the legs of the pantyhose come in handy, cut a leg off 20cm from the toe and you have a handy little bag to contain your grains. You should always boil this bag separately in water before the first time you use it in order to extract any dyes from the pantyhose.
Then put your measured amount of specialty grains in the bag, tie the top and immerse it in the brew pot while the water is slowly coming to the boil. When it comes to the boil, remove the grain bag and, if you like, pour a little boiling water through it to extract the goodness from the grains.


Crystal malt is made in a factory by wetting high-nitrogen malt and holding it at 65*C in an enclosed vessel so that the moisture cannot escape. This mashes the grains and produces a sugary syrup within the husks. Vents are then opened and the temperature is raised to about 250*C which crystallizes the sugars and dries and darkens the malt.
The grain then consists of a hard sugary mass that readily dissolves in hot water.
Crystal malt is high in non- fermentable sugars and therefore provides body and sweetness to beer, apart from a reddish colour and a pleasant nutty flavour. It does not need to be mashed during use, that has already been done at the manufactory. It is used in the tun for convenience, but it can be just as easily used in the boiler when brewing from malt extract. Crystal malt is available in a whole range of colours, but about 150 EBC is the usual standard.


This is the continental equivalent of crystal malt. It only major difference is that it is much lighter in colour than British crystal malt. See the above description on crystal malt for further information. It is made in a number of countries, including Britain.


Chocolate malt is a malt that has been kilned to a very dark colour. It is used to provide flavour and colour to dark beers: milds, stouts and porters. It imparts a lush sweetish flavour without the intense bitterness or acridity of black malt.


Roasted barley is unmalted barley that has been roasted until it is black. It is used to impart a unique dry, burnt flavour to stouts. Being unmalted it is rich in beta-glucans and other head-enhancing components, and its use promotes a thick Guinness-style head. Roasted barley does not need to be mashed; it is used in the mash tun for convenience, but it can be used in the boiler when brewing from malt extract.


Black malt, as its name implies, is malted barley that has been kilned to a high degree, turning it black. It is used for flavour as well as colour and imparts an astringent sweetness to the beer. If high levels are used it imparts an acrid bitterness.
Black malt does not need to mashed. It is used in the mash tun for convenience, but it can be used in the boiler when brewing from malt extract. It does not need to crushed either.