hist-brewing: Re: Crystal Malt and Torrified Wheat

Mike Bennett mjb at efn.org
Sun May 26 02:59:06 PDT 2002

Scotti <PBLoomis at aol.com> wrote:

 > I have been told that both crystal malt and torrified wheat,
 > like patent malt, are made in a sealed kiln which was developed
 > about 1800 AD, and is beyond the capabilities of pre-Industrial Age
 >  technology.  Can anybody give me a bibliographic citation
 > confirming or denying this?

Check out the following books.  I especially recommend the second book.
The author was the chief historian at the Guinness Museum in Dublin.
While the main focus of the book is the changes in brewing science
brought on by the Industrial Revolution, the book gives detailed
descriptions of malting techniques throughout the centuries.

Malting and Brewing Science (Vol.1)
by Dennis Edward Briggs
Chapman & Hall, London
ISBN: 0412165805
(C) November 1981 (2nd edition)

A History of Brewing
by H. S. Corran
David & Charles, Pomfret VT
ISBN: 0715367358
(C) 1975

 > What I was told is that, in making crystal malt, the sealed
 > kiln is heated to a temperature at which the complex sugars
 > in the green malt dissolve in the residual water.  This
 > destroys the amylase enzymes.  Then the pressure is released,
 > and the malt is cooled rapidly by the adiabatic expansion.

This essentially is correct.

 > The sugars crystallize out, and are thereafter much harder
 > for any amylase enzymes to break down.  They remain complex,
 > and contribute both mouthfeel and sweetness to the resulting
 > beer.

This statement is incorrect.  The sugars produced are soluble and will
be broken down by any amylase present from the base malts used.  I
believe that this misconception is brought on by homebrew texts that
instruct the homebrewer to add crystal to their extract beers for more
sweetness and mouthfeel.  Since extracts don't have active amylase the
large chain sugars present in the crystal malt won't be broken down.

 > Similarly, for torrified wheat, when the pressure is released,
 > the wheat grains pop like Puffed Wheat ("Shot from Guns") only
 > not as much.

While I'm not familiar with torrified grains, I believe a similar 
product was in use in pre-Industrial times.  Corran tells of a drying 
process used for making BROWN MALT, where wet malt was placed on a hot 
kiln and the malt would dry quickly, scorching on the outside and 
sealing steam in the kernel.  The pressure inside the kernel would build 
until the kernel would jump and explode like popcorn.

Hope this helps,
Mike Bennett
Brewer for Hire
Recognized BJCP Beer Judge
mjb at efn.org
mjbennett69 at yahoo.com

....Give a man a beer, he'll waste an hour.
Teach a man to brew and he'll waste a lifetime....

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