Crystal vs Caramel malt

  Crystal vs Caramel malt

Mike Reintz

There was an interesting article in Brew Your Own back in October of 2013 regarding Crystal Malt versus Caramel Malt. I shared these highlights with the homebrew shop staff at 3 Stars, but I think BURPers will find it interesting as well! The actual article is 7 pages long, but here’s a bulleted summary:

1. For all intents and purposes, Crystal and Caramel Malt mean the same thing.
2. Crystal Malt is specifically the English version where the malt is Roasted at low temperatures in the presence of moisture.
3. Caramel Malt can be either Roasted or Kilned. Roasting and Kilning are not the same thing though. Therefore, all Crystal Malt is Caramel Malt, but not all Caramel Malt is Crystal Malt.
4. Briess, one of the major U.S. malt houses, does in fact Roast their Caramel Malts, so those are interchangeable when a recipe specifically calls for Crystal Malt (matching for color of course).
5. When Roasting, 90%+ of the grain is crystallized. When Kilning, only about 50% is, and the remaining portion is more like a traditional highly kilned malt (such as Munich or Vienna).
6. Weyermann, for example, makes CaraMunich and CaraVienna malt by creating Kilned Caramel Malts–half ends up being Crystal Malt and the other half is Munich or Vienna (depending on temperatures).
7. Briess doesn’t do any Kilning for their Caramel varieties. Their CaraMunich 60L, for example, is actually just a blend of Caramel 60L and regular Munich Malt. Likewise, their CaraVienne 20L is a blend of Caramel 20L and Vienna Malt.
8. Based on all that, if you’re looking for a Lovibond rating of CaraMunich or CaraVienne that you can’t find, just do a 50/50 blend of Caramel Malt and Munich/Vienna. For example, CaraMunich 40L = 50% Caramel 40L + 50% Munich. CaraVienne 80L = 50% Caramel 80L + 50% Vienna.