From the HBD Archive
From: Jeff Benjamin <>
Subject: Re: Lager vs Ale malts?
Date: 1992-07-20 16:27:05 GMT

I posted this to rec.crafts.brewing recently, but since the lager vs
ale malt discussion is continuing, I thought I'd repost it here for the
benefit of those who don't read r.c.b. I also added few more comments.

Re: highly modified malts

According to a local (Ft. Collins, CO) maltster/seed-lab technician Jim
Bruce, there is actually little difference in modification between
various malts. He says that all malts these days (US ale, UK ale,
continental lager) are all highly modified; the differences are in the
kilning technique and in the barley itself.

Jim specializes in continental-style lager malts, which he says differ
from ale malts in protein content due to a longer, more gradual increase
in kilning temperature. Ale malts have a shorter kilning time with a
sharper upwards temperature curve. The end result is that lager malts
retain more proteins which are necessary to sustain the yeast over long
lagering periods. Therefore, he says, you can use a lager malt to make
an ale, but not the other way around. He also stresses that lager malts
will benefit from a multi-step mash to extract these proteins, whereas
ale malt can be used for a one-step infusion and achieve the same
protein extraction.

Larry Barello posts that "The bottom line is that step mashing is
probably a quaint practice that is a hangover from big commercial
breweries that use lots of rice and corn (where step mashing is still
needed)." According to Jim, this isn't the case. A step mash is useful
for ensuring a high-protein wort, not for converting adjuncts (though it
may be helpful there as well). We all agree, however, that in terms of
enzymatic power and sugar extraction, lager and ale malts are

Jim also maintains that the difference between US and UK pale malts is
that UK barley is grown in soils that are less heavily fertilized with
artificial fertilizers and therefore have a lower nitrogen content.

BTW, for those of you here in the central/south west region (CO, ID,
AZ, NM, UT, MT, WY, TX), there's an article on Jim in last month's Rocky
Mountain Brews.

For the record, I typically use a 3-step mash (122F for 30min, 150-155F
for about an hour, and 170F for 10 min). It doesn't seem that much more
difficult than straight infusion. I've done infusion mashes, but I've
never done a direct comparison.

- ----
Jeff Benjamin
Hewlett Packard Co. Fort Collins, Colorado
"Midnight shakes the memory as a madman shakes a dead geranium."

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