Malted Vs. Unmalted Rye: Which One’s The Best?

Brewing involves many elements to be ideal. The importance of selecting the proper rye for the taste cannot be overstated. 

In most ways, malted and unmalted rye add different tastes and flavors to the beer. However, there are a few significant distinctions that distinguish them.

So, when it comes to malted vs. unmalted rye, which one should you choose?

Malted and unmalted ryes are different in appearance, taste, and in processing methods. Malted rye is heavy, caramel-flavored, and has a sweet aftertaste. On the other hand, unmalted rye is thinner and adds pepper and spicy flavor to the beer. These two make different unique tastes of beer individually.

Spare some minutes? Great! We have full-depth comparison details between these two kinds of ryes. It will help you to clear all your confusion. 

So let’s get started!

Malted Vs Unmalted Rye: Quick Overview

Brewing is an intriguing process. There are several factors that go into determining the taste of the beer.

Everything counts, including the number of days of brewing. Also, as the amount of yeast employed, and the percentage of components used.

Rye can add a unique taste to the drink. And there is a variety of rye available to pick from. Each one adds something special to the mix. The differentiation is almost similar to malted and unmalted barley.

Malted and unmalted rye is the most used rye in beer. But, out of the two, which one is best for you?

Let’s have a look at a comparison table to see how they differ:

FactorMalted RyeUnmalted Rye
AppearanceHeavy, Amber hueThin, sharper, and dark in color
TasteCaramel, sweet, barley tasteSpicy, pepper taste
ProcessingHigh maintenanceLow maintenance
Percentage in Grist5-6%100%

So, that was a quick rundown. But we’re sure you’re curious to learn more.

In the next segments, we’ll go through the distinctions and qualities in greater depth. So keep reading!

Head to Head Comparison

Now that we have a better understanding of the key differences between these two. So,  for next, we can go into an in-depth comparison.

Each component has a varied impact on the outcome. For example, look, process, and so forth. Furthermore, they both provide distinct flavors and sensations.

Let’s take a closer look at the primary contributors.


Malted rye and unmalted rye look quite different from each other. Malted rye has a fine grain texture. And it is an amber hue in color. It is heavier. 

Source: simpsonsmalt

On the other hand, unmalted rye is darker, thinner, and sharper in appearance. 

Source: saveur-biere

Taste & Flavor

There is a significant distinction between malted and unmalted rye. The regular or unmalted rye has a stronger pepper flavor. While the malted rye has a heavier malted barley flavor. In terms of white spirit, I’m more interested in the malted rye.

Malted rye is widely seen to be used while brewing whiskeys.

Though malted rye gives the beer a unique taste. Malting alters the rye grain. So, it removes some of the unpleasant characteristics of unmalted rye. 

Unmalted rye has a spicy, peppery taste and crisp texture. It may also be used to make rye beers as part of the grist. Unmalted rye is used in rye whiskey, bourbon, aquavit, and other spirits.

Such a qualitative alteration presumably cannot be done by enzymes from malted barley when they work on unmalted rye. This is proved according to the researchers of research published in Crop Science.


Malted rye is more expensive. It can cost around 180 to 250 US Dollars per 750ml. On the other hand, unmalted rye is cheaper. It only costs 30 to 50 US dollars.

Storage Process

The storage process of malted and unmalted rye is quite similar. You can store the rye at temperatures less than 90℉ in a moderate. Low-humidity, pest-free environment is good for rye storage. Malts that are improperly kept lose their freshness and taste. 

Entire kernel diastatic & pre-ground malts should be utilized within 6 months of manufacture. After 18 months, whole kernel roasting malts may start to lose the original taste.

Percentage in Grist

You don’t use the same proportion of ingredients in every brew. Each percentage combination produces a unique flavor and sensation to the beer.

Different quantities of rye result in varying amounts of other components. The proportion of hops used in stout, for example, will differ from the overall amount.

The percentage of grist in malted rye is very low. There are around 5-6% of the grist. On the other hand, unmalted rye has 100% of it.

These are the main differences that are found between malted and unmalted rye. If you know how to make malted rye, then you can easily get that from unmalted rye.

Our Verdict

Malted and unmalted rye each have their own set of benefits and drawbacks. Which makes them suited for brewing.

Even though they are both formed from wheat kernels, their differences separate them.

Both add different tastes and flavors to the beer. If you like sweet and caramel flavor and a heavy aftertaste, then you should choose malted rye. But if you like the spicy and peppery taste, then you definitely go with unmalted rye.

However, if you are trying to choose between two, you must consider these factors.

The color shouldn’t be a factor though. But the cost matters. Malted rye is easier to work with. And it is high maintenance. So malted rye is costly. If you can afford the cost then you can choose this one.

On the contrary, unmalted rye is cheaper than malted rye. Though, it is not that easy to work with.

After reviewing all these factors, we would recommend malted rye for the beer. 

If you don’t know where to buy malted rye, don’t worry! Here are some malted rye recommendations. This might be helpful to you.

Yet, at the end of the day, the decision will be yours. You can choose wisely whatever is best suited for you.


Is it possible to brew with unmalted wheat and rye malt?

Yes. Both rye malt and unmalted wheat can be combined to brew. It helps in creating stable haze. This is due to the high protein content.

What’s the distinction between rye whiskey and bourbon?

Bourbon differs from rye whiskey because of the malting stage. Also, from unqualified malt whiskey. It is created from malted barley rather than rye. Such as Old Pogue,  Old Potrero, and North American Steamship Rye. These are examples of rye malt whiskey from the United States.

What exactly is the malting process?

Malting is the process of making malt in the production of beer and whiskey. But it may also be used to manufacture malt vinegar and extract. Malting is done with grains, the most frequent of which are barley, sorghum, wheat, and rye. 

Wrapping UP

Finally, now you know the difference between malted Vs. unmalted rye.

They each have their own distinct flavors, appearances, and impacts on the process. Be careful to pick the one that best fits your working style. If you have any more queries, please contact us here. 

And don’t forget to share your experience as well.

Till then, Happy brewing!

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