Category:Crystal and caramel malt

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The terms Crystal malt and Caramel malt are used interchangeably to describe a type of grain that undergoes a special stewing process during malting resulting in a crystalline sugar structure inside the grain's hull. These grains give a sweet, caramel flavor to the finished beer and can almost always be used as steeping grains by extract brewers. This type of specialty grain can be easily made at home from any base malt.

The crystallization/caramelization process

To make crystal or caramel malt, maltsters take green malt and, instead of heating it in a dry kiln, stew it in an extremely damp or wet oven. In the presence of water, each kernel of grain essentially undergoes a mash in the hull, converting the grain's starch to sugar. However, since the grain is not crushed, the sugar does not go into solution and create wort. Instead, when the temperature is lowered, the sugar crystallizes in the hull, giving the grain the appearance of a crystal of sugar. The malt is then dried over heat, with the drying temperature and time determining the color and flavor characteristics of the finished product.

Brewing with crystal and caramel malt

Because the stewing process essentially mashes the grain, crystal and caramel malts are some of the few steeping grains that can be used in extract brewing without needing to be mashed, although some of the palest crystal malts may not be sufficiently converted and may leave haze in the finished beer. All-grain brewers may also simply add crystal malts to the mash as they would any other specialty malt.

Because their other options are limited, new brewers brewing extract batches often depend on crystal malts, sometimes to excess. While crystal malts in small amounts will give a sweet malt character to the finished beer, in excess it can create a cloying or artificial character. Crystal malts also add to a beer's body and increase head retention.

Types of crystal and caramel malts

Crystal malts are often identified simply by color, usually in degrees Lovibond. While almost all crystal malts are sweet, the character of that sweetness varies by color, from a very light malty sweetness to a more caramel-like flavor in the middle range, to dark fruit, raisin, or burnt sugar or toffee notes in the darkest examples. However, there are other crystal and caramel malts known under trade names or traditional names.

While barley is the most commonly crystallized grain, caramel malts made from other grains, such as wheat and rye, are also available.


This light Crystal malt will lend body and mouth feel with a minimum of color, but with a light caramel sweetness.


This Crystal malt will provide a golden color and a sweet, mild caramel flavor.


This pale Crystal malt will lend a balance of medium caramel color, flavor, and body.

For many years, only one variety of crystal malt was available to home brewers, which was approximately 40L. Early homebrew recipes that just refer to "crystal malt" probably refer to something close to modern 40L crystal malt.


This medium Crystal malt will lend a well rounded caramel flavor, color and sweetness. Crystal 60 is probably the most commonly used Crystal malt.


This Crystal malt will lend a well a pronounced caramel flavor, color and sweetness.


Dark Crystal will lend a complex sharp caramel flavor and aroma to beers. Used in smaller quantities this malt will add color and slight sweetness to beers, while heavier concentrations are well suited to strong beers.


Origin US
Yield 75.0%
Potential 1.035
Color 150 SRM
Max in Batch 20.0%
Moisture 4.0%
Protein 13.2%
Coarse Fine Difference 1.5%
Diastatic Power 0.0%
Recommend Mash No
Compare various malts with the Malts Chart

Crystal Medium 50-60 (UK)

Adds body, colour and improves head retention. Also called "Crystal" malt.

Origin UK
Yield 74.0%
Potential 1.034
Color 55 SRM
Max in Batch 20.0%
Moisture 4.0%
Protein 13.2%
Coarse Fine Difference 1.5%
Diastatic Power 0.0%
Recommend Mash No
Compare various malts with the Malts Chart

Pages in category "Crystal and caramel malt"

The following 8 pages are in this category, out of 8 total.