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05/07/07 12:53 PM  
pilsner malt and pale malt
I brought this up a while ago, but want to revisit it b/c I brewed a Belgian Pale Ale with pale malt sub'ed in for pilsner and it turned out terrific:


So my question is, can you really tell the difference between a two row and a pilsner malt by taste? What do you think are the main differences when choosing one over the other in your brews? I'm thinking of using 2 row in everything now and see no reason for the pilsner...am I'm wrong?

05/07/07 01:05 PM  
Re: pilsner malt and pale malt
Most malts today are two row including pilsner. What you use all depends on what you want for the final beer profile and there are several ways to get to the same profile. You could use pilsner as a base but then you'ld have to use a crystal malt to arrive at the same lovibond as you would if you just used all pale ale malt. It's all up to you. I use pilsner as my base malt for most all of the Belgian styles I make.
05/07/07 03:00 PM  
Re: pilsner malt and pale malt
When you state 2-row, I assume you mean either US or Canadian 2-row malt. 2-row is a family of barleys, not a malt style. Typically US and Canadian "2-row" malts run between 1.6-2.0 L. These malts typically very similar to pilsner malt. These malts are generally used by lager breweries. I will use either Pilnser or US 2-row as a base for Belgian ales.

Pale ale malt is generally darker 3-4 L, and is the typical base for British style beers. Some people will uses these in Belgian ales, but I have not tried this. If I was to try this, I would limit it to Belgian pale ales, dubbels, and dark strongs.

05/07/07 03:45 PM  
Re: pilsner malt and pale malt
Thanks for the great responses.

Sorry, I did mean 2-row and yes it is usually canadian or US grown. Do you by chance know what the difference is between the malts besides the color? Do you think you could tell the difference in a taste test of a beer brewed with 2-row vs pilsner?

05/07/07 04:26 PM  
Re: pilsner malt and pale malt
shoreman, you seem to be assuming that pilsner is not a 2row malt ("Do you think you could tell the difference in a taste test of a beer brewed with 2-row vs pilsner?"). I don't think the question is valid, I think the real question would be "Do you think you could tell the difference in a taste test of a beer brewed with pale ale vs pilsner malts? IMO the difference is mostly expressed with color. If you want to go really pale, go pils. As far as taste, you will find people who insist they can differenciate anything and everything. Personally, I'm pretty sure I'd fail that test.
05/07/07 05:44 PM  
Re: pilsner malt and pale malt
I had a problem like this this weekend too.

Brewshop was out of Weyerman's Belgain pale malt, so I need to substitute Weyerman's Belgian Pilsener malt. It's a little darker in color, so the beer will be slightly darker in color, but the flavor is similar.

If I had gone instead with German pilsener malt, I would have had the same color, but the malt flavor would have been different.


05/07/07 05:57 PM  
Re: pilsner malt and pale malt
Screwed up the facts in the last post-- Pils is lighter than Pale by a couple of degrees, opposite of what I said. I had to sub pale for pils.


05/07/07 06:43 PM  
Re: pilsner malt and pale malt
Steve - I didn't know that pilsner was a 2-row ,alt, that is good to know. Thanks for the replies, I am going to stick to 2-row american in all beers. That way I just buy a sack of it to use for the season.
05/07/07 07:57 PM  
Re: pilsner malt and pale malt
I was just sampling out of secondary a big saison that was brewed about three months ago.

I used 10# of Briess 2 row, and 1# of Briess 40 degree L (an all-American malt French beer. I Started around 1.080 and I'm now around 1.020 but holding out for 1.014.

Still a little too sweet, but it's a beautiful garnet shade (two hours on the boil with Dan Sukker). Saison Dupont orange only deeper, and a firm white head. The maltyness is more subdued over the biscuit notes you'd get from Weyerman's but in a beer that's mostly yeast and sugar flavors, it's slight to notice.

The money saved over using USA malts over Belgian Malts is very slight (less than $2-$3 for 11# of malt), however good color is a really nice feature. I'll make this beer again, if only for the color.

05/08/07 07:27 AM  
Re: pilsner malt and pale malt
Shoreman, I'm not sure we're on target with the distinction here. References I have found for 6 row malt seem pretty general, I'm not so sure likening pilsner malt to 2 row or 6 row is accurate. 6 row and 2 row are barley types, whereas pilsner and pale ale seem more like styles of malting.

Most of the references I have seen to 6 row are extremely general, as in they don't refer to it as "pilner malt" or "pale malt". Seeing 6 row referred to simply as "base malt" is more common.

As far as the differences, I think 6 row is supposed to be easier barley to grow and have more husk material. So its a bit cheaper with possibly greater diastic power. I would imagine it would streamline sparging as well.

I'd love additional comment here, but when I see pilsner malt I think of the palest malt available. When I see pale ale malt I think of malt that is a hair darker, possibly with a slightly maltier taste (for the same reasons that its darker) and a bit more converted.

05/08/07 09:25 AM  
Re: pilsner malt and pale malt
Yes, 2-row, 6-row, and even 4-row are families of barley. You can make Pilsner malt, pale ale malt, cystal malts, etc... for any of these barleys. In general, 2-row has been favored by brewers for "superior" flavor due to higher ratio of starch to husk. 6-row is popular for its higher yields (bu/acre) with farmers, thus much of the early US produced malt was 6-row. I'm not sure what the current breakdown is between 2-row and 6-row in US brewery operations. I can tell you that AB does contract a lot of 2-row for its malting operations.

Again, since most US and Canadian brewery operations produce lager styles, the base malts whether from 2-row or 6-row are made to closely match pilsner malt since the majority of the usage is for light lagers. Unless it specifically stated pale ale malt, it is likely pilsner malt.

05/08/07 09:31 AM  
Re: pilsner malt and pale malt
Thanks WitSok, this all makes perfect sense to me. I think then the question is not "Do you think you could tell the difference in a taste test of a beer brewed with 2-row vs pilsner?" but "Do you think you could tell the difference in a taste test of a beer brewed with 2-row pilsner vs 6-row pilsner?"

I would imagine the answer is probably yes based off of your description, though 6-row would be the easier malt to brew with. I'll stick with 2 row!

05/08/07 01:03 PM  
Re: pilsner malt and pale malt
Thought I'd share:

"Ever since its introduction to North America in the 17th century, barley has taken on a life of its own. Both two-row and six-row North American malted barley are rather different from their European cousins and have developed distinctive new characteristics. Genetics, climate, and breeding practices have produced a rich variety of malt qualities from which to choose"


05/08/07 04:40 PM  
Re: pilsner malt and pale malt
6-row does indeed yeild more bu/acre and also has relatively more husk material and more diastic enzymes than 2-row. Thus it is favored by the macro brewers because the extra enzymes help convert large %s of adjuncts and the extra husks help form a bed to aid lautering brews w/ lots of adjuncts. I've heard that some of the major american brewers are switching from corn / rice, to corn syrup / rice syrup because it is easier to deal with just adding the sugar to the boil. One additional point I've heard from a less than authoratative source was that the straight barely grains left over from brewing are more readily marketed as 'distillers grain' when no adjuncts are included. Apparently, the by-products market is becoming more important to the bottom line.
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