From the HBD Archive
From: polstra!larryba@uunet.UU.NET (Larry Barello)
Subject: Re: Lager vs Ale malts?
Date: 1992-07-21 18:49:42 GMT

In HBD #929, Jeff Benjiman writes:
>...
>
>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.

Although I don't doubt the accuracy of your buddies statements, classical
liturature on brewing/mashing (e.g. The Practical Brewer) make it pretty
clear that the lower temperature protein rests are to provide short amino
acid chains that the yeast can use for a nitrogen source. Intermediate
length chains contribute mouthfeel and body. Longer chains cause chill
haze. Over cleaved protein (e.g. too long a protein rest) can cause head
retention problems as well as insipid mouth feel.

>From your description, Ale malts should have more longer chains - due to
the shorter time that they are kilned at temeprature that favor protolitic
enzymes (pardon my spelling). In fact (from memory, no reference at hand)
the longer germination time (aka over modification) is what is responsible
for the availablility of free amino nitrogen (FAN) without the protein
step in mashing. Lager malts (classic undermodified) presumably have more
of the starch locked up in the steely endosperm with long interlocking
protein chains. The protein rest is needed here to generate FAN, reduce
long chains (chill haze) and liberate the starch for sugar conversion.
>
>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
>comparable.

I was not being clear: The step mash is to generate more FAN since the
corn and rice has such low quantities to begin with. Stepping has nothing
to do with starch conversion, per se. The fully modified grains
available today don't have a problem with long proteins or insufficient
FAN for yeast growth. With undermodified malts (which we agree are
probably unavailable today) the step mash is needed for chill haze and
starch release as well as FAN.
>
>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.

Please get some references from you buddy. The above statement sounds
like cow doodoo to me. ALso, run my statements, above, by your friend.
I don't mind being corrected if the state of the art has changed recently.

I hope folks don't find this article too long. This is an interesting
subject that has pretty broad implications on how much work we homebrewers
do to get award winning beers. One reason I got started on this is that
I observed many commercial micro-brewers using single step infusion mashing
using various "lager" malts (e.g. GWM Pale Malt) and wondered why they
were getting excellent results with so little work. Another tidbit to
chew on. Many use relatively high temperatures too, like around 160f
for the single step. Perhaps that is to compensate for the minimal use
of expensive specialty malts?

Cheers!

- Larry Barello

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