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Beer 103: The Malt of the Earth

Welcome class once again to an introductory conversation about beer. In our recent adventure, we spoke briefly about hops and how UV skunks beer. Our first session was a quick synopsis of the brewing process. Today we have the opportunity to have a conversation about malt and its effect on beer.

For some, the darker the beer the better the brew. The darkness found in beer is dependent upon the malt. Malt is a term to represent barley that has gone through a process that involves extracting the enzymes from the grain. During the process, a heating occurs that gives the color seen in beer today. The longer the barley heats the darker the color. Porters and stouts can obtain hints of chocolate or coffee and this is due to the dark malt involved during the brew. For example, Guinness claims 232 degrees Celsius is the temperature that turns their barley “into a black state of perfection.”

Almost all beer will contain malts and will often balance out the rest of the flavors with its presence. The strength of malt can often overtake the hops that are added lessening or removing the bitter flavors altogether. There are equations and charts that exist to compare the impact that each ingredient will have on a beer. Bitterness is measured in a beer by its IBU’s and the sugar is measured by a term called “gravity.” The higher the gravity, the more sugar involved. If one had the gravity and the IBU’s they could predict how sweet or bitter the beer was before drinking it. One problem with a literal comparison of the numerical attributes is the complication within the ingredients of the brew. For example, a roasted barley may produce some bitterness on its own adding to the bitterness. If the barley produces bitterness it will not end up in the IBU’s and will tip the scales.

As I am writing, it is summer outside. The humidity is thick and the sun is hot, and I have no interest in drinking a thick dark beer. However, when it cools one thing I will be excited about is sitting down in front of a board game and taking a swig from a thick delicious porter or stout. One of the staple beers at the Malted Meeple is Old Rasputin. Old Rasputin is a Russian Imperial Stout filled with medals, awards, and flavors. The next time you come by the Meeple, order a pint of Rasputin and tell ‘em Dana sent you.

Editor’s Note: While everyone has a right to their opinion, Mr. Miller’s opinion here is factually incorrect. And just plain wrong. A nice thick stout has been scientifically proven to be great any time of year. And who are we to argue with science?

Meeple Dana Miller

Dana Miller has embraced the nerd culture his whole life. Starting from a passion for collectible X-Men cards to feverishly saving the princess from Bowser on his NES. He has managed game rooms, blockbusters and restaurants. He loves cooperative and team based activities, learning new board games, comic book films, League of Legends, and trying different craft beers.