During the past year, the Sales & Marketing team at Briess took a deep dive into sensory evaluation of malt. This was especially valuable for me being a relatively new member of the Briess team. Everyone on the team looked forward to “Sensory Day”.

For each session, we used the Hot Steep Method developed by Cassie Poirier from our Technical Service team. (If you’re not familiar, check out the white paper here)

This is now an approved ASBC Method of Analysis for sensory of base and specialty malts. It’s an effective way to quickly evaluate flavor and color attributes.

After we finished our personal sensory experience, we talked through each wort as a group. In addition to flavor and color, we discussed attributes and usage for each malt. A favorite part of each session was sampling a customer beer made with the malts being evaluated and trying to identify flavors of our malts in the finished product. Ha! – a couple of these meetings lead to an early Tuesday happy hour with some of the brews being high ABV. 

A couple of my favorite sessions were:

  • Base Malts: This included our Brewers Malt, Synergy Select Pilsen Malt, and Ashburne® Mild Malt. What really stood out was our Brewers Malt had so much flavor in comparison to the market. I picked up a sweet biscuit note with a touch of honey that was very enjoyable. Synergy Select Pilsen Malt delivers a very clean profile with slight European notes. Lastly, our Ashburne® Mild Malt offers biscuity cracker flavors with a hint of caramel. A great malt to stand on its own in a SMASH brew!
  • Wheat Malts: We compared our White and Red Wheat Malts followed by a wide variety of beers. I never knew the difference until this session. White Wheat, most commonly used, has sweet malty, bready notes great for American wheat beers. Red Wheat, with its sweet sugar cookie and Honey Nut Cheerios® notes brings a much more flavorful experience. Red Wheat is great for traditional wheat beers like Hefeweizen or Belgian Wit.
  • Dark Roasted Malts: This segment falls right into my and Dan Burick’s wheelhouse, as we are both fans of the dark side. Two of my favorites are our Roasted Barley and Blackprinz® Malt. Roasted Barley had a lighter color vs. what’s available in the market with great semi-sweet, dark roast coffee, caramel, dark chocolate, and toffee notes. Blackprinz® Malt, our dehusked, bitterless black malt, had notes of baker’s chocolate, coffee, brownie, and toffee. Both products are perfect for stouts and porters.

You don’t have to take my word on the flavors above as everyone has a different palette. If you haven’t tried the Hot Steep Method, give it a shot. It’s quick and easy, and we’re all here to help you out. Just shoot us a call and we’d be glad to walk you through it or perform it with you and your team.