When Breakside Brewery’s visionary head brewer Ben Edmunds asked us to micro-malt some triticale for a special beer, we were pretty jazzed. Triticale, a natural hybrid of wheat and rye originating in Scotland, makes a great base for brewing beer, given its high sugar content just waiting to be gobbled up by yeast and turned into alcohol and CO2.
The process of malting has been revered by zymologists and beer drinkers for thousands of years. We began this process with our cleaned, dry triticale, mixing it with lukewarm water and letting it steep. Once it has steeped an appropriate amount, we “couch” it to allow for oxygen to permeate the grains and stave off decay that would come from the anaerobic underwater environment. We then alternate between steeping and couching multiple times until the grain has reached 60% moisture.
Once the grain hits this magic number, we spread it into beds and prepare for germination. During germination, the grain becomes “modified,” that is, ready for use in brewing. Germination is the process by which the endosperm is broken down and the starches within are exposed. This breakdown is signaled and measured by the emergence of the acrospire from the kernel and is complete when the acrospire is approximately 75% to 100% the length of the kernel.
Once the grain is modified, we lightly kiln it to stop the germination process. This is different than roasting and is meant to merely stop the biological process, not to flavor or color the kernels. Once kilning has ended, the grain has officially transformed to malt and is ready to be made into delicious beer.
This triticale beer was served in Breakside's Dekum brewpub in 2014.