Specialty Malts

Appears in
On Food and Cooking

By Harold McGee

Published 2004

  • About

The 18th and 19th centuries were an innovative time in Britain, and it was early in this period that many of today’s familiar British brewing names— Bass, Guinness, and others—got their start. By 1750, the greater control that coke and coal heat gave the maltster made gently dried pale malts possible, and thereby pale ales. And in 1817, “patent malt” was developed. This was malted barley roasted very dark, and used in small amounts only to adjust the color and flavor of ales and beers, not to provide fermentable sugars. Patent and pale malts made it possible to produce a range of dark beers with a combination of light, largely fermentable malt and very dark coloring malt. This was the beginning of porter and stout as we know them today: darker and heavier than ordinary brews, but much lighter and less caloric than they were 200 years ago.