Low Color Malts For Modern IPAs from Crisp Malt and BSG CraftBrewing

Malt color – as well as many flavor compounds – are created in the kiln. Lower kiln temperatures and shorter kiln times allow for paler malts with more subtle flavors, making them ideal for delicate styles such as Pilsner and Helles. Because pale malts let hops maximize their sensory footprint in a finished beer, they’re also an ideal base for juicy, hazy, and session IPAs.

Juicy and hazy IPAs are relatively new, but pale-colored base malts are not. Developed in the 19th century when advances in technology gave maltsters more control over the drying process, the first pale malts gave rise to beer styles such as pale ale and pilsner.

For over a century, Crisp has supplied brewers with low-color base malts for the creation of innovative beer styles. Founded in 1870 in Norfolk, the English maltster has had one foot in tradition and one in modern brewing.

In the early days, with coal-fired natural-draft kilns, there was little that could be done to control color except for changing the batch size and the intensity of the fire. However, with the advent of fan power and better heating controls in the middle of the 20th century, the maltster was given the tools needed to influence malt color, especially at the lower end of the range.

Traditional U.K. brewing malt is made to a high degree of modification to ensure easy processing through single-temperature infusion mash systems. It will naturally pick up more color in the kiln, compared to lower modified malts. But with modern high-volume fans and close temperature control, it is possible to produce consistently low-color, well-modified malts to meet the needs of the modern brewer looking for lighter flavors and colors, but still needing good levels of easily accessible sugars.

Although malt is not the primary focus of hazy and juicy IPAs, the malt bill is still important. It is the basis for the mouthfeel and appearance of these offerings, as well as the support structure for a considerable amount of hop aroma and flavor.

As BSG’s Chris German puts it: “The malt still has to be interesting.”

Blended with high-protein grains like wheat and oats, traditional pale malts from Crisp make an optimal base for hazy, juicy, and session IPAs. Here are some of our customers’ favorites:

Crisp Extra Pale Finest Maris Otter®

Crisp’s lighter-colored (1.5-2.0°L) Extra Pale version of the classic delivers this heirloom barley’s characteristic round, biscuity warmth with minimal color. In combination with chloride and high-protein grains like oats or wheat, Crisp Maris Otter® creates a pillowy texture with excellent flavor that perfectly complements tropical, dank, and juicy dry hops.

Organic Extra Pale Malt

Low-color (1.5-2.0°L) pale malt from organically grown barley. This offering from Crisp gives a rich IPA base malt option for organic brewers.

Crisp Europils

High enzymatic capacity makes Crisp Europils an excellent base malt when incorporating unmalted wheat, oats, or rye in your IPA grist. Pale color (1.5-2.0°L) and mild flavor.

Crisp Clear Choice & Clear Choice Extra Pale

Crisp Clear Choice malt is produced from proanthocyanidin-free malting barley. The absence of these polyphenols increases malty, sweet notes and reduces astringent and bitter notes in the finished beer, making it ideal for creating the soft texture of New England-style IPAs. The absence of polyphenols also appears to reduce the darkening that can happen over time in some hazy beers. Clear Choice Extra Pale is kilned to a light color (1.5-2.0°L), while the regular version is slightly darker (2.0-3.0°L).

Crisp Malted Oats

Crisp’s unique “naked” malted oats (1.3°L) provide haze-active proteins and contribute significant mouthfeel.

Crisp continues to innovate new malts for North American craft brewers – please visit us online or in person at brewing conferences to learn about the latest from Crisp.

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