Malt contains the fermentable sugars necessary to make beer. Without malt there is no beer. Malt is made from grain, the most common being barley; however rye and wheat can be malted as well. Malting is essentially the process of germinating the grain, which triggers the conversion of starch to sugar.
Malting has three main steps:
- STEEPING: the grain is placed in a Steep Tank and immersed in water for a period of time. The water is then drained away allowing the grain to "air rest", and the grain is re-immersed, then drained again. Malsters performs as many immersion/air rest cycles as necessary to get the moisture of the grain to about 45%, while keeping the kernals viable.
- GERMINATION: Horton Ridge adheres to the most venerable method of malting, known as Floor Malting. The grain is removed from the Steep Tank and spread out on a Malting Floor. Over a period of 4 days, the Malster closely monitors the grain, making sure that the malting process is proceeding as it should. The malt bed is raked and turned periodically to ensure adequate oxygenation and temperature control.
- KILNING: The green malt is placed in a Malt Kiln. The malt is then heated to drive off the free moisture for a period of about 24 hours. Depending on the type (and colour) of malt desired, the temperature of the Malt Kiln is increased and the malt is further dried. After the moisture of the malt has been reduced to less than 5% and the desired characteristics of the malt have been developed, the malt is cooled and bagged.
The brewer coarsely grinds the malt, adds water creating wort, then "mashes in". During the mashing process, more sugars are formed, and fermentation can occur.