Being both a malt house and a brewery has allowed us to explore the idea of using green malt to brew with instead of the more traditional kilned malt. I am sure most of you know that after germination malt must be dried in a kiln to preserve it to allow the malt house to ship it to breweries. Green malt is unstable by nature; it is a work in progress, and when the time is right the maltster must stop the germination process by tossing it into a malt kiln. Since sugars have been created during germination, the Maillard reaction happens in the kiln and toasty biscuity flavours are imparted to the drying malt. That is why we associate malty beers with notes of bread & biscuits. Of course malts of varying colours and flavours can be achieved by varying kilning regimes.
But what if you were both a malt house and a brewery? Could you not make beer directly from the green malt? Properly modified (germinated) green malt has all of the necessary stuff to make beer, however it is alive and must be dealt with, either by kilning or by making a Green Malt Beer. Think of the energy you would save, because kilning, by far, is the most energy intensive step of malting. There would be some savings in water as well, because kilning drives off the water from the green malt, which is then "replaced" during the mashing-in step of the brewing process.
Over the past two years we have been experimenting with this novel concept of making beer from green malt. Two of the fundamental differences we noted were taste and colour. Whereas kilning changes the flavour of the green malt, imparting biscuit flavours, the actual flavour of the barley is a feature of green malt beer. Who knew that green malt has a melon/cucumber flavour? As far as colour goes, since kilning darkens the green malt, the green malt beer had a much lighter straw colour.
Once we fine tuned the brewing and hopping regimes, we named our green malt beer RAKED, in honour of the dozens of times we rake each batch of malt. Raking the malt during its germination stage is critical to keeping the green malt alive. This beer is truly unique with notes of melon, cucumber, cut grass, fruit and citrus.