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How is it that a kernel of barley or wheat can — when cooked with the wet, sugary extract of its base malts and a dollop of yeast – be transformed into a burst of chocolaty flavor? The phenomenon is one of the many complexities of malting and roasting grains – but it is not entirely mysterious. When asked to explain, Dave Kuske goes into detail about all that goes on when heat is applied at a certain rate and span, to create what we call, chocolate malt. “Each chocolate malt we offer is unique – we took the opportunity with our very flexible, and more importantly, very precise roasting process to aim for three different levels of both color and flavor. And if you count our chocolate wheat – that makes four.”
Proximity’s Pale Chocolate malt carries light coffee notes, much like a lightly roasted barley, but more mellow at a 275-325 L range. Our Chocolate also has coffee notes, but also has a more densely dry cocoa note. Dark bakers’ cocoa, with its more pronounced and intense roast is characteristic of our Dark Chocolate, which ends up at about 400 L – reminiscent of a truly dark chocolate. Finally, our chocolate wheat malt is akin to the dark chocolate malt, but with a little more mouthfeel and body. And without the husk, it is little more mellow than its barley cousins. A brewer looking for smooth and mellow might want to use our Chocolate Wheat in a Dunkelweissen, any Porter or Stout. Another function of chocolate malts? Used anywhere from 2-4%, both wheat and barley chocolates can put a surprisingly bright red hue into any red style beer.
We asked Dave Kuske why Proximity Malt’s roasting technology does such a great job with chocolate style malts. He told us that it’s the gentle nature of our continuous coil process, which results in a higher level of kernel integrity. Less husk chafing means less burnt starch and less pixilation in the color level from kernel to kernel. The technical bit? Says Kuske, “Obtaining chocolate flavor during roasting at low moisture, called dry roasting, involves combining reducing sugars with amino nitrogen groups to form melanoidins and reductone compounds. This creates flavor – the more we can keep that in the starch, the better. In short, the design allows for optimal mixing which leads to uniform batches.”
And when we asked why we have three different chocolate barley malts, Kuske’s reply was simple: “Because we can…and because each color level lends itself to unique and different flavors.” And if a brewer is looking for flavor and mouthfeel complexity, why not use all four of Proximity’s chocolate malts together?