Jan 16, 2015

Book Review: “Malt” by John Mallett

Let’s start this review of Malt, by John Mallet (Bell’s Brewery) with what I think is a fairly obvious statement: this book is not for everybody.

The nearly 300 pages (including a couple of appendices and index) are as detailed a piece on malt as you can possibly get. It’s not an overly scientific book, but it probably has more detail on carbohydrate modification and Deoxynivalenol than your average Joe Blow, like myself, cares to know about. This is a book that is aimed at the makers of beer — from the relatively experienced homebrewer to the professional grade.

With that said, I probably enjoyed aspects of Mr. Mallet’s research that his target audience may only peruse in passing. I particularly found the brief look at the history of malting to be the most fascinating pieces of the book with the process of turning barley into malt a close second. Like I said, the content of Malt has the brewer in mind as topics covered include malt chemistry, storage, handling, preparation and how to properly translate a COA (Certificate of Analysis).

John’s natural voice and affable writing makes a book like this a bit more digestible for a simple beer drinker like myself. You can feel his love of barley and malting throughout the book as he delves into the history and innovations of malting, highlighting a few craft maltsters — including the relatively local to me Copper Fox Distillery. The anecdotes of other brewers also make for a nice change of pace from the in-depth analysis of color variations. Their insights are interesting as they highlight some of their own favorite malts to use within their products.

I may not be a brewer, but I think, even I learned a valuable lesson within this short book — chew your malts. Mr. Mallet is a firm believer in chewing your malt as you calculate your malt bill. Only through that experience can you truly predict how your end beer will turn out.

If you’re a brewer of any level, Malt is more than likely a book you want to sit down a bit with a pint.

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