Malt analysis provides guidance on the effectiveness of the malting process and the suitability of the malt for brewing. The brewer judges malt quality by referring to the malt analysis provided by the maltster. Maltsters generally publish "typical" malt analyses, which are provided before purchase, and a lot analysis of the malt, which is provided at the time of purchase. Malt is analyzed in accordance with standard industry tests such as the IoB (Institute of Brewing), EBC (European Brewing Convention), and ASBC (American Society of Brewing Chemists) methods of analysis. A malt analysis provides very useful information, listing a number of parameters. Some of the more important parameters are listed below.
Moisture content (MC) is shown as a percentage of the total malt weight; the higher the MC content, the less extract yield per kilogram. The moisture content can be expressed as “extract dry” or “extract as is”—which includes the moisture content.
During kilning, chemical reactions take place, producing color compounds. The higher the kilning temperature, the more color compounds produced. American maltsters quote color in Standard Reference Method (SRM) units or degrees Lovibond.
Fine-grind, dry basis extract (FGDB) values are a measure of the maximum potential yield of extractable material under ideal mashing conditions.
Coarse-grind dry basis extract (CGDB) values are a measure of the yield that malt is capable of giving under a coarser milling regime not unlike that used in a brew house.
Fine Grind-Coarse Grind Difference
Fine grind-coarse grind difference (FGCG) is another measure of malt modification, and can be used to predict extract yield and rate of wort separation.
Hot-Water Extract (HWE)
The hot-water extract (HWE) value is the single most important measurement in judging malt quality.
Cold-Water Extract (CWE)
Cold-water extract measures the amount of sugars broken down during the malting process and thus the level of modification.
The enzymatic power of the malt enzymes that break-down complex carbohydrates into sugars is measured as DP (diastatic power in degrees Lintner).
Alpha amylase hydrolyses starch to produce shorter chains and reduces the viscosity.
The total protein content of barley is probably the single most important guide for predicting general malt quality and is expressed as a percentage of the total weight of the malt.
Total Soluble Nitrogen
Total soluble nitrogen (TSN), consists of free amino acids and peptides and is expressed as a percentage of the total nitrogen (TN).
Free Amino Nitrogen
Free amino nitrogen (FAN) is a measure of the portion of the soluble protein that has been further broken down into free amino acids and small peptides.
Mealiness is a classification system used to indicate the level of malting. Often mealiness is expressed as “mealy,” “half-glassy,” or “glassy” (steely of vitreous).
Friability, expressed as a percent, refers to the softness of the kernel and is determined by the amount of malt that passes through a rotating screen.
Sieving tests are used to determine the distribution of kernel size within a sample of malt.
Dimethyl sulfide (DMS) usually provides a good indication of the intensity of a beer’s malty/sulfury taste.
Beta-glucan content is important because it can increase viscosity of the wort, which leads to slower runoffs during lautering and results in beer filtration problems.
Viscosity is a measure of the “thickness” of the wort solution. It is expressed in centipoise units (cP), a measure of the breakdown of beta-glucans.
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