What is it?
Brown malt is a roasted speciality malt. It has a strong, dark-toasted grain flavour, which is slightly nutty with a hint of bitter chocolate. Brown malt imparts dark amber to light brown colouring. It is used in traditional English ale styles and is an essential ingredient for traditional porters.
Brown malt was so-called because it was relatively browner than the other malts and produced a brownish beer. The original brown malt had enough enzymatic activity to convert itself and was used for centuries as the base of many beer styles. During the mid-Nineteenth Century, brown malt was still widely used but was being specifically employed for its character (e.g. as a speciality grain) rather than its fermentable product. Pale malt became more popular due to its efficiency and cost but Brown malt is making a come back.
Most brown malt made over the last 200 years has been of the non-enzymatic type. Originally brown malt was made from green malt and left to dry on a germination floor. Today’s brown malt is made in a much simpler way. It’s made in a direct heated rotating drum where the heat is brought up to around 266 °F (130 °C). The final time and temperature are based on the specifications of the customer. Brown malt is usually mashed. It contributes starches but has no enzymes of its own to convert. For recipes depending on it for fermentable sugars, another malt (such as Pale Malt) with diastatic power will need to be added. If you are simply seeking colour and flavour contributions then steeping is sufficient.
Different amounts of brown malt will contribute different characteristics depending on what else is added to the grist. In small amounts in a moderate gravity porter, it lends a dryness and touch of cocoa. When used with black malt in a low gravity stout it adds a tremendous amount of depth and mouth-filling roast. Brown malt is unique in the fact that it can be used to mimic the character of darker malts. It can be used as a replacement for roasted barley when used in very high quantities. This amount of brown malt added to an imperial stout will also add dextrins (body) to the beer, something that roasted barley does not do. Although mainly used in Porters and Stouts, brown malt is often used in English Ales and Biere De Garde styles (high gravity, well-hopped beers that are meant to age and not be consumed young). Brown malt in these recipes accentuates the hop dryness and keeps the beer from being sweet.
"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 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.