Think of the last time you were at the Washington Brewers Festival: How many hop-related hats, logos, shirts and tattoos did you see? Now, how many Munich malt logos? It can feel like craft beer drinkers give barley short shrift, which kind of makes sense since our proximity to the hop farms creates a special level of affection for the green cones. But, barley has been used to brew beer for 10,000 years. Munich malts hold a special place in the brewer’s repertoire of raw materials. Offering both color and flavor benefits typically associated with specialty malts plus diastatic power for starch conversion, this malt can do what no other malt can. Like all European malts, Munich malts are made by steeping two-row barley in warm water and nurturing it through a warm germination phase; the steeping is what begins the germination of the seed. Munich malts are dark so the green malt is “stewed” under progressively higher air temperatures, which promotes a degree of saccharification of the malt before it is finally kilned at 212 °F. The longer the malt is held at 212 °F, the darker the Munich malt will be. The flavor Munich offers tends to be a deep, malty, grainy flavor that may also be described as slightly toasty in some cases. Munich malt is typically a secondary malt because of its low diastatic power. It has a lower enzyme concentration and cannot be relied on to convert starch from enzyme-deficient adjuncts and special malts. Today, all five of the craft beers in our beer flight contain the rich, malty, biscuit-like and intense Munich malt in what we call Craft Beer Crosscut 7.20.17: A Flight of Munich Malt.
5% ABV, 28 IBU
The Sierra Nevada Summerfest is made with 2-row Pale and Munich malts and Perle and Saaz hops. A crisp summer lager that has been around for more than 15 years, the Sierra Nevada Summerfest also lets you know that you’re drinking a real beer. With a full flavored tang hop kick, this pilsner style lager is another classic from Sierra Nevada. With light malts and light hops and spice, the crisp big bubbles make an excellent refreshing summertime lager. The lemon and malt aftertaste are very well balanced making this one of our favorite summer beers. Less-experienced drinkers may find the hoppy finish a tad too bitter, but they’ll come around.
5.5% ABV, 30 IBU
Brewers at Double Mountain Brewery call this crisp refresher “Bohemian Rhapsody,” featuring Pilsner, Munich and Vienna malts, Czech lager yeast and Sterling hops. They aged this beer for more than six months to give the Czech lager yeast enough time to allow the flavors to mellow and merge. Scaramouche, Scaramouche, will you do the Fandango? This is a hophead’s Pilsner.
6.9% ABV, 70 IBU
From Redmond, Black Raven Brewing comes this well-balanced IPA with a deep chewy malt character obtained from copious amounts of ESB, Munich and Crystal combined with a blast of Chinook, Magnum, Simcoe, Amarillo and Cascade hops. Basically, Black Raven brewed a craft beer that has an elevated grain bill and an elevated hop bill, executed perfectly so you have an elevated beer. This seventh seed IPA brings light fruit, citrus and piney hop aroma with a full hop flavor to the flight.
6.8% ABV, 85 IBU
San Diego’s Modern Times Beer specializes in mashups, blending together different styles and flavors. Blazing World is an aggressively hoppy brew that shares characteristics with both imperial IPAs and amber ales. Despite its amber hue, Blazing World is pleasingly dry, sporting a lightly bready malt backbone of Munich, 2-row and Midnight Wheat that serves as platform for the huge and complex hop profile. Nelson Sauvin, Mosaic and Simcoe hops give it a dank aroma packed with white grapes, mango and grapefruit peel, while the flavor blends burnt sugar, biscuits and grass. It’s luxuriously hoppy amber.
8.3% ABV, 100 IBU
Three Creeks Brewing‘s beefy Northwest-style IPA is built on a base of German Munich and British Maris Otter malt then heavily hopped with Columbus, Cascade and Cluster. Crystal, Special B and Carabohemian malts along with a three-hour boil contribute loads of plum-like, dark fruit flavor. It pours a golden color with very little head or lacing. Nose is earthy and taste a bit malt forward, which gives it some sweetness. The beer is well balanced and easy drinking.