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What Malts Need To Be Mashed?

The key word in this post’s heading is “need”.

I think there is a some confusion about which malts need to be mashed and which ones do not.  We Brew Dudes have come up with this working definition for malts that need to be mashed:

“Grains that contain unconverted starches, from which you require their contribution as a fermentable sugar source, require mashing.”

Malts that fit into this definition are your base malts.  They make up the majority of your grain bill and they are going to produce the majority of your fermentables.

Malts that have been processed in a way so that the enzymes that would break down starches into sugar in a mash have been denatured entirely would not fit this definition and would not need to be mashed.

Now there are malts that have been processed where their enzymes haven’t been totally denatured.  We feel that if you are using these malts in amounts that are small percentages of your total grain bill, these can be safely steeped rather than need to be mashed.

Of course, we would need to conduct some side by side brewing sessions to see if this statements stands up to a taste test.



High Kilned Malts


Gose Recipe


  1. You’ll get better use of all malts if Mashed rather than Steeped.
    Regarding Flaked Cereals / Adjuncts – http://pdtnc.wordpress.com/2011/04/03/ag52-half-wit/ the Mash duration took a good while longer than 1 hour to complete the Starch conversion. Using Iodine Tincture opened my eyes a little more to the process.

  2. Zhaosheng

    Interesting way of defining mashable grains. The definition is expected to be technical and not many brewers appreciate wordings that are too techki (denatured enzymes). Grain processors who kiln the grains would definitely have an idea on whether there is a “need” to mash or not. I usually just follow their instructions. haha.

    Maybe a classic easy test is to put the grain in your mouth. If it already tastes sweet, then obviously sugars are already present and mashing is not strictly needed. Cheap, efficient and effective.

  3. Matty

    I don’t understand why enzyme status is relevant to deciding whether a malt needs to be mashed. Seems like the important distinction is carbohydrate content technically, and maybe more usefully, what you want the beer to get from the grain.

    For steeping, small amounts (up to 6-8 oz. for a 3 gallon boil?) of roasted malt – eg black barley or chocolate malt – for color and aroma, and somewhat larger amounts of caramel malts (less than a pound) for body and flavor. With either, I think, less is better.

    Stove-top minimashes work great, too, if you want to use some malt but don’t want to keep all the unfermentables you might pull out from steeping alone.

    “Full” mashing, however, is a blast, and I’ll never look back.

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