What is it?
Black malt (also known as Patent Black Malt) is one of three main dark grains used to brew dark beers. It does not have the panache of Chocolate Malt or Roast Barley (partly due to its name) but it is important to brewing not only dark beers but also adding colour and complexity to other styles. The flavour of black malt is of moderate roast and a combination of coffee, bitter chocolate and an acidity. Too much use of it can overpower a beer but used alongside other malts it can be very characterful. Unlike roasted barley, black malt also adds colour to beer foam/head which can produce an interesting appearance.
Black Malts are made by roasting malted barley at a higher temperature than that used to produce Chocolate Malts. This also makes it different from roasted barley which uses unmalted barley. This creates a sharp, somewhat tart roasted flavour and deep black colour, with a smoother, less dry flavour than roasted barley. Small percentages add reddish colour to Scottish ales, red ales, and bitter. Higher percentages give pronounced roasted flavour and aroma and black colour with a tan to brown head. Black malt can be used for just about anything black and roasty such as a sweet stout or robust porter. Black malt primarily gives a highly roasted flavour, that carries some bitterness and acidity. But it can also show a deep fruity character reminiscent of currants, blackberries or sultanas. It gives deep contrast to a round malty beer by giving it some punch, without being prominent. Most importantly, even in very small quantities, it provides a drying quality that brightens up the finish of any beer.
- Irish Stout
- American Stout
- Barley Wine
- Old Ale
- Festive Ale
Black malt is made from fully-modified pale malt, containing around 5% moisture. In contrast, some other speciality malts, including crystal malts, are made from “green” (undried) malt. Plump, full-sized kernels — as uniform in size as possible — are selected because smaller kernels would heat up too quickly in the intense roasting process. The malt is then placed in a roasting drum and rewetted. Next, it is kilned at 221–233 °C (420–450 °F) for up to four hours.
Black malt can complement other dark malts and grains such as chocolate and roasted barley. It can also be used successfully with darker crystal malts. A blend of dark grains (rather than a single dark malt), including black malt can lend a note of complexity to porters and stouts.
Like all dark grains, Black malt is an acidic malt. A mash of Black malt only would yield a pH value under 4. In beers that use a substantial amount of it, adding carbonates either from calcium carbonate or sodium bicarbonate to your water may be needed to keep the mash in the proper range.
Another fact about dark grains is that the polyphenols (tannins) in their husks are more easily extractable, compared to paler malts. As such, dark grains can lend some astringency to a beer. In most beers, astringency is something brewers strive to avoid. In some beers, however, a little bit of drying astringency can be a positive attribute, as it is in many red wines (or oak-aged brews).
What are the scales used?
"Degrees Lovibond" or "°L" scale is a measure of the colour of beer. The determination of the degrees Lovibond takes place by comparing the colour of the substance to a series of amber to brown glass slides. The scale was devised by Joseph Williams Lovibond. The Standard Reference Method (SRM) and European Brewery Convention (EBC) methods have largely replaced it, with the SRM giving results approximately equal to the °L.
The Standard Reference Method or SRM is a system modern brewers use to measure the colour intensity of a beer or wort. The EBC convention also measures beer and wort colour, as well as quantifying turbidity (also known as haze) in beer. EBC (European Brewing Convention) is used to indicate colour in malts (and beers). The lower the EBC is, the lighter is the malt (thus kilned for a shorter time). EBC and SRM/°L scales and conversions are available online and usually provide colour swatches to indicate the colour depth that you are likely to achieve from specific malts. Most craft brewers measure the colour of the grain using EBC (European Brewing Convention). The higher the EBC the darker the malt. Other countries may prefer Lovibond (L) or the Standard Reference Method (SRM). There are currently two colour scales in common use: SRM in the US, and EBC in Europe. The SRM (Standard Research Method) scale is based on an older degrees Lovibond scale and for all practical purposes, SRM and degree Lovibond are identical. So to convert SRM to EBC simply multiply by 2. e.g. 4 SRM = 8 EBC. The formula for converting Lovibond to EBC is EBC=(2*Lovibond)-1.2
Why Use Dark Rock Malts and Hops?
The Dark Rock Brewing team are passionate about producing the best quality beers. Their mission is to help you to "Master your Craft" and brew the best craft beers possible. There is no reason why home-produced ales cannot be just as good as commercial equivalents. The key to success is having a wide selection of the best quality and freshest ingredients possible. Dark Rock ingredients are not just great value, they are of the highest quality and always supplied fresh. The team strive to source the best malts, and constantly innovate and experiment with new styles and products. Dark Rock also markets top-quality all-grain and partial--mash kits which receive fabulous reviews. They are experienced commercial brewers and supply craft micro-breweries and nano-breweries with equipment and ingredients. They also provide training and business development consultancy to scale-up breweries. This experience is channelled into equipping the home craft brewer with the "tools to compete". Use Dark Rock products and you can't go wrong.