What is Munich Malt?
Amongst the range of malts that are available to the home brewer Munich malt is a versatile addition to the malt toolbox. With a colour in the range of 12 – 30 EBC, good diastatic power for a malt of this colour range and rich malty and biscuity flavours Munich malt provides a wealth of opportunity to the experimental home brewer.
But what is Munich malt and how was it developed?
Munich malt was first developed at the Spaten Brewery in Munich in the late 1830s. The malt was a revolution at the time because it was the first malt to be produced by an indirect kiln. Indirect kilning is a process whereby the heat generated by the combustion of a fuel source such as gas, oil, wood, peat or coal is passed through a heat exchanger. Air is passed over the hot heat exchanger and warmed and it is this hot air that kilns the malt. Prior to the invention of the indirect kiln the hot air coming from the burning fuel passed directly through the kiln. This method of kilning gave rise to variable malt quality and also the malt would often pick up a flavour from any smoke generated during the combustion process. The other benefit of the indirect kiln was that the process was far easier to control and this gave rise to better malt with a more consistent quality especially with respect to colour. The interesting thing about Munich was that, because of the control due to the indirect kilning process, the resultant malt had a far lower colour than the traditional malt of the day. For example the new Munich malt had a colour equivalent to 15 – 20 EBC whereas the standard malt of the day was often double that colour. The beer that the Munich malt was used to brew was a Marzen, which is also the forerunner of the Oktoberfestbier, and was roughly half the colour of the traditional Dunkel.
How is Munich malt made?
The kilning process used to produce Munich malt gives rise to the unique properties characteristic of the malt type. Initially Munich malt is kilned relatively gently with the kiln temperature set at anywhere between 50°C to 70°C until the moisture content has dropped to 10% to 20%. The kiln temperature is then rapidly increased to approximately 110°C to drive off the remaining moisture. The slow initial kilning at a low temperature helps to preserve the diastatic power of the malt. The final curing temperature at 110°C initiates the melanoidin producing Maillard reactions which gives the malt its characteristic malty and biscuit flavour and deep colour.
What can Munich malt do for a homebrewer?
Munich malt, because of the kilning profile employed, still has reasonable enzyme content and so can be used as the base malt for brewing rich malty beers with a deep luxurious copper brown colour as in the case of Marzen style beers. Alternatively you can supplement a normal pilsner or lager malt with a proportion of Munich malt to give a boost of colour but also push up the malty flavour. Munich malt is a versatile malt and so if you are looking for a fuller malty flavour in your beer and a richer deeper colour then Munich malt is certainly worth adding to your ingredient list.