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Smoked Malt

I originally wrote this post back in November of 2007.  I was wondering about smoking malt and if anyone had done it.  Alas and alack, it didn’t seem that anyone had.

I am reviving this subject to add more information about this type of malt and to ask the question again.  Here’s the profile for smoked malt also known as Rauchmalz:

This type of malt was made historically by taking malted barley and drying out over open flame, rather than the sun’s rays.

The town of Bamburg in Germany is well known for making smoked beers, although they are now made all over the world.

Flavor: Smoky

Color: 2.5  to 5°L – Light in color…

Body: I don’t think it adds body to your beer…it’s all about the smoke!

Use: Certainly in Rauchbiers and other smoked beer varieties like a smoked Porter or brown ale. Although Scottish ales have a smoky quality to them, it is frowned upon stylistically to impart that smokiness through smoked malt.

Now for my question:

I saw a recipe for a smoked porter.  It called for smoked malt (Rauchmalz) or that you could smoke your entire grist to get the same effect.  The question is:  Have you ever smoked malt?

Leave a comment and we will get this discussion going.  I would like to know any techniques or tips to smoke my own malt.


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  1. Joe R.

    My first reaction would be DON’T USE HICKORY (or mesquite, for that matter). Because of the taste association, your beer will taste like bacon to you.

    I have a smoker that I use for cooking, so I’d just toss in some apple or pecan wood and put the grain where the meat would normally go. You could do the same thing on a regular grill with one of those smoke boxes you can get at most stores that sell grilling supplies. I’d probably soak the grain first, so it stayed moist during smoking (you want smoked, not burnt).

  2. Good point. I have had smoked beers before and they tasted like bad beef jerky. That could have been a smoke problem or just a smoked malt quantity problem.

  3. Can’t I just drop a lump of charcoal in the kettle with my aroma hops? Say at 5min to flame out…

  4. mysteryberto

    There is a homebrew recipe on homebrewtalk.com where a homebrewer smokes his own malt using a bbq.


  5. Bardkin

    Last year at a brewing session hosted by Left Hand Brewery, Longmont, Co; They used an old bread proofing oven converted to a smoker. Sheet pans were filled to about 1/2 inch or so and put in the racks. They had a large hotel pan filled with applewood chips and propane fuel source. Every so often the trays were rotated from top to bottom so everything would smoke evenly.

    The grains are put on the tray, then sprayed down with water- aparently not too much, but more than a quick spray. The water traps the smoke and ash particles. (the wood was never set on fire, and when it got to dry, they sprayed the wood just a bit to keep it from flaming up ) They stayed in the smoker at around 130 or so degrees for several hours- maybe 4 or 5 (as it was a large smoker with many trays )

    I am going to be smoking a batch tomorrow at a friends house who has a large smoker, I will report back with the details and any problems I might run into.

    at the end of the brew session, I got 10 Lbs of the grain, which I used in a newly created recipee to try out. It was a holiday spiced beer with the normal pumkin type spices, but I also used several oranges that I peeled, chopped up, and added meat and rhind right into the mash.

    At pitching time, I sampled and it was quite smokey and orange flavor. kinda scared me. By the end of the month the flavors had died back down and the nutmeg kind of took over.

    after two months, all the flavors blended together very nicely and the smoke flavor was barely more than a hint.

    I have noticed that Left Hands Smoke Jumper beer is pretty smokey when fresh, but as it sits ( in bottle ) for more than a month or two, the smoke flaver quiets down a lot.

    Here is what my grain bill was / is:

    (12 Gal Batch on tripple tier w/ converted kegs )
    10Lbs smoked pale
    3 lbs cara 40L
    20 Lbs Pale 2 row
    ( yes it is a large grain bill, but the beer ultimately turned out pretty good so I am going to brew it later this week for the hollidays

  6. Ken Rowe

    I smoked a bunch of grain today for several hours in my buddies smoker. It is a large 13.5 X 21 X 36 box with oven racks. I tried the idea that other guy had ( from the link a couple messages back ). It was real easy although I would have prefered a larger weave in the mesh. It was aluminum ( thats all they had for metal screen ) and was very easy to cut, bend and use.

    I half *ss’d cut the sheet into rectangles that were a little bigger than the rack size and bent the material to form sides. I simply dog eared the corners and it stayed in shape.

    I was forced to use store bought hickory chips as the guy I was gonna get the apple wood from had gone fishing for the weekend, but I think it should work out ok..

    So, I filled a bucket with water, soaked the wood chips about 1/2 hour, then lit her up. Maintained about 130 degrees. Every 1/2 hour I would add some fresh wood chips and spray the grain down.

    I started about 10:00 am and finnished at 2 so I could go watch the Broncos.

    I think the next time I do this, I will cut back a bit on the grain bed depth- I had 2 inches, shoulda gone back down to 1. The smoke flavor is present but not as strong as I’d like it to be, nor how it was when they smoked last year at left hand brewery. We’ll see how the beer turns out…

  7. grain buckets

    very good . .com where a homebrewer smokes his own malt using a bbq. thanks you!

  8. JohnnyD

    Well, I’ve learned a lot of methods for smoking over the years (as a chef) and one I don’t think that has been ventured in this respect is smoking an actual malt extract. As a viscous liquid it would be much more receptive to inheriting the smokey flavor than any fresh or dried hops. The amount of smoke could easily overpower any other flavors you’re trying to attain, so care should be taken, but I think at completion it should smell balanced and bitter instead of like a lump of charcoal. I plan on trying this method tomorrow evening, and will post the results.

  9. Hi JohnnyD,

    Yeah, let us know.

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