Earlier this month, your Market of Choice beer stewards had the pleasure of visiting Baerlic Brewing Company in Portland for an evening of networking and education.
Jim Parker, Baerlic’s current sales manager, and owner/head-brewer Ben Parsons introduced us to beers’ most important ingredient, malt, and the role it plays in different varieties of beer.
They shared that most malt starts as barley. It is then steeped in water for a process called germination, then it is dried in kilns to stop the process and turn the starch remaining in the grain into sugar. The kilning process can leave the malt light and toasty, or it can roast it to a black, charred-looking kernel.
The sugars in the malt are what are broken down in the wort (beer before fermentation) to be consumed by the yeast. The amount of roasting determines the amount of fermentable sugars available in the grain, which affect the amount of alcohol in the beer style.
The varying shades of malt also can determine SRM, which is the reference method that determines the color of the beer and amount of alcohol in the beer style.
During the talk, Jim passed around several types of malt for us to view and sample. We had fun sampling the pilsner and caramel malt, which tasted like bran cereal. Then there was the chocolate malt, which was dark brown and tasted like semi-sweet chocolate.
Brewer Ben educated us on other ingredients used to make the beer, such as oats, corn and rice. Oats add smoothness and body to beer, when used in balance with the other malts. At Baerlic you can find oats in their Noble Oatmeal Stout, a year-round favorite. They also add oats to their Eastside Pilsner for texture and their Nice & Easy Gose-style beer for aroma.
If you weren’t already aware, Baerlic means “of barley” in old English, so these guys really take their malt builds seriously! If you’re curious about what malt goes into each beer style, or you’re just thirsty from reading this, pay a visit to Baerlic in southeast Portland, or check our fill station site, marketofchoice.com/growler to see which Baerlic brews we have on tap.
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