At Briess we truly appreciate the tradition behind each pint of full-flavored beer you craft. That’s why we’re so passionate about not just making malt but handcrafting specialty malts that deliver just the right flavors, colors, and aromas you seek for the specialty beers you craft.

So we don’t take short cuts. Like hastening the two first and critical steps of malting—steeping and germination. Or making kilned caramel malts. Years of malting and experimentation have taught us that it takes strict adherence to recipes and processes, along with vigilant and hands-on quality control, to make consistent, full-flavored specialty malts that deliver just the right flavor, color, and aroma intended.

The art of handcrafting specialty malts

You probably already read about The Malting Process and know that making specialty malts differs from making standard brewers malt in that batch sizes are generally smaller, it is much more labor- and resource-intensive process, it involves more laboratory testing for consistency and it requires the constant vigilance of an experienced maltster who relies upon his senses of sight, taste, and smell to achieve the desired finished product from the beginning to the end of the process.

Each specialty malt recipe, however, begins with the first two steps of the basic malting process—steeping and germination. But that’s where the road splits.

Germinated barley destined to become standard brewers malt heads off to a relatively low-temperature kiln where germination is stopped but those coveted enzymes are preserved. Germinated barley destined to become a specialty malt, meanwhile, may head to the kiln where it is dried at higher temperatures for a longer period of time, roastedfurther processed, or a combination of two or all three to develop its distinctive, signature characteristics.

Throughout the specialty malting process, a veteran operator performs hands-on sensory testing. What are they looking for? In the case of caramel malt, it’s so that the starchy inside has reached a sweet, “liquid” consistency and then fully caramelizes. For all specialty malts, color is checked during the roasting process by manually grinding the malt or barley and comparing it to control samples.

Each lot of finished specialty malt undergoes a series of chemical and physical tests in the Malthouse Lab. Modern, calibrated testing equipment determines analytical data like DP, color, and protein levels. Wort is prepared by mashing each lot and trained sensory specialists conduct sensory to consistently meet flavor and aroma targets.

By melding modern technology with traditional sensory testing, we proudly produce the finest, truly handcrafted specialty malts for consistent, superior brewhouse performance.