hist-brewing: the decline of brown malt

BrewInfo brewinfo at xnet.com
Tue Nov 21 13:49:40 PST 2000

Adam writes:
>    In so far as why old style brown malts, however one defines them,
>disappeared from the market place would be hard to say without some real
>research.  I doubt if it was due to their lack of enzymatic power as
>plenty of old recipes call only for brown malts and unmodified cereals.
>The comparatively poor performance of  old style malts was certainly not
>a problem when brewing was a domestic as opposed to a commercial
>pursuit.  This was especially true prior to the eubiqitous presence of
>sparging when a single grist bill provided two or even three batches of
>ale and high adjunct brewing was common.
>    While it is true that modern pale malts have enzymatic
>characteristics that are clearly superior to malts of old i think that
>the real issue is one of economics, particularly those related to the
>scale of production and brewing leaving the farm and Roadhouse and
>becoming an industrial process .  Specifically i am referring to the
>decline in the cost of producing pale malt as a function of the decline
>of fuel costs and the advent of drum malting during the industrial
>revolution.  These developments it would seem helped undercut the
>economic advantage that porter producers originally had.

The demise of brown malt is well documented.  I believe I got this
information from the Brewers Publications Beer Style Series book, Porter,
written by Terry Foster.

The story goes that while pale malt had already been invented, it was
far more expensive than brown malt.   With the invention of the hydrometer, 
brewers realised that while pale malt was more expensive per pound, it
was cheaper per gravity point.  The issue is not enzymes, but rather
the starch content (which leads to higher yield).  When brewers realised
that they could make something *similar* to Porter with pale malt and a
bit of black malt, they abandoned the inefficient brown malt.


Al Korzonas, Lockport, Illinois, USA
korz at brewinfo.org

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