17/07/2017
by Kenny Campbell

How To Read Malt Analysis

Typical British Pale Ale Malt Analysis

Variable

Typical Value

Colour

4-6.5 °EBC

Moisture Content (MC)

2.8-3.3%
Hot Water Extract (HWE)

303-315 L°/kg

Cold Water Extract (CWE)

17-20.5%

Total Nitrogen (TN)

1.4-1.7%

Soluble Nitrogen Ratio (SNR)

36-45.5%

Diastatic Power (DP)

124-212 °WK

Screenings <2.2 mm

0.45%

Friability

85-95%

Colour: In most of the world, colour is measured according to a visual method developed by the European Brewing Convention (expressed as EBC units).

In the US, malt colour is expressed in terms of the Standard Research Method (SRM) set by the ASBC or in °Lovibond, an older method of visual measurement upon which SRM is based.

The formula °EBC = (°L X 2.65) gives a reasonably accurate conversion to °Lovibond values.

Moisture content: The closer a malt is to 1.5% MC, the less it risks mould growth and the less flavour and aroma it will lose over time

Hot water extract (HWE): Indicates how many litres of wort at S.G. 1.001 a kilogram of a malt will give at 65 °C, and reports it as hot water extract, or L°/kg.

HWE for two-row lager or pale ale malt should not be less than 300 at 0.2mm grind or 295 at 0.7mm grind.

Grind difference (% FG/CG): The fine grind/coarse grind (FG/CG) difference indicates the modification of the malt.

A "steely" malt, one suitable only for a mash cycle that includes a protein rest, will have an FG/CG difference of 1.8-2.2%, while a mealy and well-modified malt suited to infusion mashing will have an FG/CG difference of 0.5-1.0%.

Cold water extract (CWE): British maltsters rarely give FG/CG values; instead, they usually quote CWE. The CWE is the amount of extract that is soluble in cold water 20 °C, and this value has a loose relationship to the FG/CG difference as an indicator of malt modification. A CWE of 19-23% indicates the malt is acceptable for infusion mashing; lower values indicate the need for low-temperature mash rests.

Protein or Nitrogen (%): Because proteins are made of nitrogen-based compounds such as amino acids, maltsters use protein and nitrogen values interchangeably; each 1% of nitrogen equals 6.25% of protein.

European lager and British ale malts are usually below 1.6% TN. One of the major reasons brewers prefer these malts for all-malt beers is because their protein levels are adequate for head-formation, body, and healthy fermentation, yet low enough to present less chill haze potential than high-protein North American malts. When adjuncts are used, malts of more than 1.6% TN are required to achieve acceptable head, body, and yeast nutrition.

Soluble nitrogen (% TSN): The amount of nitrogen in soluble form, expressed as a percentage of malt weight. The TSN parameters are used to calculate the soluble nitrogen ratio.

Soluble Nitrogen Ratio (% SNR): This ratio (SN/TN [soluble nitrogen/total nitrogen], or Kolbach Index) is calculated by dividing the soluble nitrogen value by the percent total nitrogen.

The SNR is an important indicator of malt modification. The higher the number, the more highly modified the malt. Malts destined for infusion mashing should have an SNR of 36-42%, or up to 45% for light-bodied beer. At a percentage much over 45% SNR, the beer will be thin in body and mouthfeel. For traditional lager malts, 30-33% indicates under modification, and 37-40% indicates over modification.

Brewers can take account of increases in SNR by adding low-temperature rests. Conversely, a decrease in SNR can be allowed for by shortening the duration of low-temperature rests.

Starch conversion: Diastatic power (DP) expresses the strength of starch-reducing enzymes in the malt and is measured in oWindisch–Kolbach ( oWK) in Europe or °Lintner in the US. The diastatic power, considered together with mealiness/steeliness, indicates how well a malt will respond to mashing. For conversion oWK = (3.5 x oLintner) - 16

Screenings: this figure should be as low as possible indicating that the maltster has cleaned the malt adequately and you are not paying for excessive unproductive dust.

Friability is the measure of a malt's readiness to crumble when subjected to crushing. Any malt should be at least 80% friable; for infusion mashing, malt should be at least 85% friable, in my experience 90%’ would be preferable. This measurement puts a figure on chewing the malt – it is always worth checking the quoted figure against a chew of five or six corns and storing the feel of the chew away in your memory!

George Thompson our friend has kindly written this article he has been a brewer and subsequent brewing consultant for his whole career, he always tells me UK malts are the superior malts for brewing.