aromatic malt vs melanoidin vs munich vs decoction

Aromatic Malt Vs Melanoidin Vs Munich Vs Decoction: Pick Your Beer Malt

Choosing a base malt for your beer is a tough job. As there are loads of choices that bring totally different results. While you were researching you came across aromatic, melanoidin, Munich, and decoction. 

Now you want to be clear about these words and know what they mean.

So, what is the deal with aromatic malt vs melanoidin vs Munich vs decoction?

Aromatic, melanoidin and Munich are 3 different base malts that produce very different beers. Decoction is an old mashing technique. These malts have different colors ranging from light to dark. And they produce different tastes from malty to comforting honey. Personal preference is the key here.

That was the basic introduction to the words. Now that you are familiar with them, we must go deeper to understand them better. 

So let’s go right into it.

Quick Comparison: Aromatic, Melanoidin, Munich & Decoction

Home brewing is pretty interesting. And it’s pretty complex work at that too.

Most home brewers have a specific result in mind when starting their brew. And for that choice, the base malt is absolutely important. There are lots of processed grain options ranging from flaked oats to wheat or wheat malt, etc.

base malt
Source: soundhomebrew.com

That is the single factor that dictates how the final outcome will be. The color, taste, and feel are totally dependent on what base malt you use.

If you are looking at a few options like aromatic, melanoidin, and Munich. Then it’s best to be sure about what effects they have on the brew. Because at the end of the day you want a perfect bear that is suited for your taste.

So first let’s take a look at the basic differences between these malts. So that it becomes easier for us to compare them and have a general discussion.

Let’s check out the quick comparison table.

FactorAromatic MaltMelanoidin MaltMunich Malt
FlavorVery strong and pronounced malty flavor. The taste can be described as a flavor ranging from honey to dried raisin-like.Aroma with malty flavors. Notes of honey and biscuits depending on use percentageHas a deep malty taste that can be described as grainy. Some may also say it gives a toasty taste too. 
Usage PercentageUsed up to 10% of the grist. 1-5% for effects on body and head. 
10-20% to bring forth the biscuity flavor.
Depends on the beer style. The range can be 10-30%, 5-15% to as low as 2-5%
ColorHas a significantly dark color, at 20-degree Lovibond.Deep amber to reddish-brown. 20-30 degree Lovibond.Ranges between golden to amber or intense orange. 7-9 degrees Lovibond. 
Beer StylesBrown ales, Munich Dunkels, Mild Beers, PortersAmber ale, Scottish ale, Irish Red ale, Kellerbier.Dark beers and bocks, Marzenbier, Festbier, Canadian largers.

That lays out quite a simple picture. The basic differences between the malt styles can be very easily understood. But to make a choice we need to discuss it further.

Before we move on to the next segment, let us suggest to you some really fragrant aromatic malts:

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Briess 2-Row Aromatic Munich MaltCheck Price
2-Row Brewers Malt for Home Brewing Whole GrainCheck Price
Dingemans Belgian Aromatic Malt Home Brewing Malt Whole GrainCheck Price

That’s some great quality aromatic malt right there! You can try them out!

But before that, we will take a slight detour and talk about a special technique. This is a very old technique called decoction mashing. It may be old but it is still used widely in Germany and in many European-style beers.

So let’s talk about it for a moment before advancing further.

Decoction Mashing: Why Is It Relevant? 

Decoction is a mashing technique that is quite old. It was used mainly in temperature-sensitive mashing. As in the old days, precisely measuring temperature wasn’t easy.

Decoction mashing involved separating part of the mash. And then boil it separately.

This boiling would let the malt release its flavors even more. And the cell walls of the mals would open up better. 

And then the separated part was added to the main mash again. And then that would regulate the temperature of the whole mash.

This could be done in a few separate ways. There were three-stage decoction, two-stage decoction, and 1-stage decoctions. But with time it has been proven that single-stage decoction brings the optimum result.

There were some claims that using melanoidin malt gives the same results as decoction mashing. But relations between decoction vs melanoidin have been proven wrong by extensive studies.

decoction vs melanoidin
Source: bsgcraftbrewing.com

Nowadays the malts are more processed and of higher quality. And there are modern techniques for mashing. But still, in Europe and Germany, some styles of beers follow decoction mashing.

Now that we got to know about decoction mashing. Let’s advance to our detailed discussion of the three malts.

Detailed Comparison: Aromatic, Melanoidin, & Munich

Malt types directly decide what the end taste and feel of your beer will be. And while brewing at home, you must have a specific target in your mind. 

The color, taste, and overall effect vary drastically from malt to malt. So we have to discuss them and get to know them before attempting homebrew. Or the end result might disappoint us.

Let’s start with the most basic quality of them all. The flavor of the beer.

Flavor From the Malt:

If you’re looking for a deep malty taste then you might have to choose between aromatic and Munich. Aromatic malt gives very deep malt flavors. Munich does that too, but some say Munich has a slightly toasty flavor to it.

Melanoidin malt, on the other hand, has a slight malt flavor. It gives honey or biscuit-like flavor in the end result.

Aromatic malt sometimes also gives a hint of raisin flavor too. But there are brewing techniques with raisins for those who specifically want that kind of flavor.

So if you’re looking for a strong malty taste in your beer, you might choose aromatic or Munich.

But for a more comforting taste, you should go for melanoidin.

Use Percentage: 

In your mash, the use percentage of the malt can alter the effects it has on the end result. If you are using the wrong percentage while mixing. Then it could cost you the whole process.

That leads us to the question:

Which malt base is the best?

Aromatic malt or aromatic malt substitutes are usually used as the base malt. It is used nearly 10 percent in the first to bring forth its malty tones.

In the case of melanoidin malt, it is also a great malt for body improvement and head retention. So it might be used in a beer for 1-5% percent to help with the head and body.

But to extract the comforting honey and biscuit-like flavor, it is used in the mash up to 10-20%.  

Munich malt has a great range in terms of percentage. It is used in a lot of beers due to its different characteristics. 

How much Munich malt to use?

You should use about up to 10-15 percent Munich malt in malty beers. This number can go down as low as 2-3% to just get the hint in. So it mainly depends on what kind of end result you want.

Looks & Color: 

Finally, it’s pretty important for your beer to look good. And you definitely have a personal favorite when it comes to the look of the beer.

Beer color can be light, from golden to straw-like color. And it can range to darker hues like brownish or amber-like colors.

And the main determinant of the color of the beer is in fact the malt.

To determine the color of the malt, there are a few scales in use. But here we took reference from the Lovibond scale test. The higher the number on the scale the darker the color is. 

In terms of color, melanoidin malt is the darkest of them all. They have a deep amber-like hue to them. They can get up to 30 degrees Lovibond. 

Aromatic malt vs melanoidin happens in terms of color. It also produces dark brown types of beer. In the Lovibond scale, the color of aromatic malt is nearly 20 degrees.

Is Munich malt light?

Munich malt is the lightest of the three. It goes around 7-9 degrees Lovibond. Having a golden or intense orange type color.

Munich malt
Source: simpsonsmalt.co.uk

These are all the differences between them. All these discussions have surely made the difference very clear in front of your eyes.

Now it’s time to hear our final verdict and what we think about it.

Time to Pick the Best

In the end it all comes down to the personal preferences that you have. Choosing a malt defines the whole characteristic of the beer. 

So if you know beforehand what kinds of quality you want. Then you can choose your malt according to that.

But if you’re a first-time brewer and looking for some suggestions. Then I say you can try Munich malt. It has a pleasant taste and color to it. And it can also be added in different percentages to achieve head and body formation.

If you’re totally a new brewer and have no preferences then it could be a good starter. But the real fun is when you anticipate and achieve what you aimed for.

So carefully check what you need and which malt provides them. And then brew accordingly.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is A Lasting Head Good For Your Beer?

Yes. The head captures a comforting and tasteful aroma from the beer. This aroma can’t be found after the head has died down. So it’s desirable for beer to have a good and lasting head. Many malts are added in small amounts in various beers to improve their head and body.

Is Mashing Necessary In Homebrewing Process?

Yes, mashing is definitely a very useful part of homebrewing. Mashing helps in activating the enzymes present in the base malt. And these enzymes take part in various chemical activities. Which aids the taste of the beer by breaking down carbohydrates into simple sugars.

Is Over Carbonating A Problem In Beer?

Yes, it is. You might want to carbonate your beer to get that extra fizzy kick. But it’s easy to overdo it. Overcarbonated beer will hit your tongue sharp. And it will take away the original taste that you intended to achieve. Also over carbonating will cause a big amount of foaming too.

Parting Words

Though it was a hard choice to make between aromatic malt vs melanoidin vs munich vs decoction. But after this article hopefully, you are good to choose on your own.

Patience and observation are the keys. 

Best of luck in your home brewing journey!

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