CRAFT by Under My Host® Issue No. 17 Made in America: Part II - Page 77

even a sousaphone. (I confess, that my bias as a bass and sousaphone player may be showing, but I digress.) When the bassist satisfies their natural role as the grooving, rhythmic low end to the listener, things feel right. If the bassist is off, the listener may not figure it out, but they certainly notice. You may never hear the words “base malt” the same again. There’s a lot to explore in each of these ingredients/players who work tirelessly, with or without valor, to provide delicious and grat- ifying experiences. Today, we are going to focus on my fellow bass player, and talk about the world of malt and the current opportuni- ties in craft malting. There is some difficulty in explaining the importance and essence of malt to non-brewers, as the term itself is largely unfamiliar to us until we’re introduced to beer. The word malt is used broadly and sometimes interchangeably in beer. Let’s start with basics before cir- cling back to some compelling modern-day shifts in the world of US brewing and malting. John Mallett, author of Malt: A Practical Guide from Field to Brewhouse, helps clarify the term and process, “Malting is a process and grains that have been malted, are referred to as malt. Although many grains can be malted, barley is the most frequent choice. For at least 10,000 years, people have been moistening grain, allowing it to germinate and then halting that germination by drying it. Although this malting process can be simple, careful control of the steeping, germination and kilning vari- ables allow radically different flavors and colors to be generated from the grain kernels.” “The gentle process of soaking grains takes a couple of days. The grain kernel uptakes moisture in a phase that mimics the effect of abundant spring rains. After it is hydrated, the grain is transferred to germination beds for the next four to five days. During this time, rootlets emerge from the grain embryos and complex biochemical changes occur in the starchy energy reserves. Frequent gentle turning of the bed of sprouting grain is necessary to allow the plants to breathe. Careful control of temperature, moisture, and time variables throughout the one-day drying stage al- lows the maltster to produce finished malt that spans the color spectrum from very pale to jet black. The flavors that are developed exhibit a similar range of variety. Malt is also responsible for the color, alcohol, body, and foam in beer.” “In the 1880’s the brewing professor, Dr. Lintner observed that ‘malt is © Hundred-to-One LLC 2018. All rights reserved.