Our Malting Process

Process Makes Perfect

Malted barley, or malt, is the basic ingredient used in the production of beer. It provides the complex carbohydrates and sugars necessary for fermentation, as well as contributing to the flavor and color that deliver unique characteristics to craft beer. Malt is a critical component that encourages and supports the artistry of craft brewing.

An overview of the 1886 Malt House malting process:

  • 1886 Malt House has partnered with New York State’s finest grain growers to secure more than 2,000 acres to meet that demand of craft brewers across New York State and beyond
  • Trucks deliver the raw barley to 1886 Malt House and unload into bins where the grain is stored until it passes an initial quality inspection
  • Samples from each and every delivery of raw barley are taken directly to the 1886 Malt House Quality Control Lab for inspection and analysis to ensure the grain delivered is of the highest quality and will support the facilities commitment to producing the highest quality malt
  • Steeping is the where germination begins. After inspection of the raw barley against strict quality measures, and the raw barley is sorted and cleaned, it is transferred into steep tanks and covered with water.
  • The raw barley is repeatedly submerged and drained for up to 48 hours after being placed in the steep tanks. This helps to increase its moisture content from more than 10% at delivery to more than 40%.
  • This process of absorbing water activates the barley’s naturally existing enzymes while helping the barley develop new enzymes.
  • These enzymes help to break down proteins and carbohydrates and help to open up the seed’s starch reserves, and newly developed hormones initiate growth of the sprout.
  • Steeping is considered complete when the barley has reached an appropriate moisture content to allow consistent breakdown of the starches and proteins.
  • Our maltster closely monitors the steeping process and can recognize it is complete by determining the percentage of barley that show “chit” – tiny rootlets that are now emerging from the grain.
  • Called “steep out,” the chitted barley is then transferred from the steep tanks to the germination compartment.
  • Germination, which began in the steep tank, continues during malting where the barley kernel undergoes “modification.”
  • “Modification” refers to the breakdown of the protein and carbohydrates, and the resulting opening up of the seeds’ starch reserves.
  • Good modification requires the barley to remain in the germination compartment for 4-5 days.
  • Germination is controlled by drawing temperature-adjusted, humidified air through the bed.
  • Turners keep the bed from compacting and rootlets from growing together (felting).
  • Germination is halted when the grains are dried – this helps to maintain the malt’s starch reserves needed by the brewer.
  • Base or standard malts are typically kiln dried at around 180-190° F for up to four hours.
  • The drying process helps to develop a range of malt flavors – from very light malty to a heavier malt.
  • Specialty malts are typically dried, but sometimes roasted, or both, at higher temperatures for longer periods of time.
  • By varying the moisture level as well as time and temperature of drying, 1886 Malt House can get creative with the flavor and color characteristics of each specialty malt.
  • When malting is complete, daily productions are stored in individual holding bins until lab technicians analyze the finished product.
  • Once approved for distribution, the malted barley is immediately moved through packaging where it is packaged into 50lb. airtight bags
  • Finished product is then palletized and stored, well protected from moisture, in a controlled environment of between 50 and 70 F.
  • 1886 Malt House has developed a powerful e-commerce engine to support ordering and distribution of our specialty malt products.
  • Simply click on Place An Order and you will be taken directly to our easy order, e-commerce site.
  • There you’ll find a listing of all our available malt products and supporting specifications for each.
  • We accept major credit cards and can normally ship the same day.