Proximity Crystals – A Flavorful Family Gets Bigger & Better - Proximity Malt

Proximity Crystals – A Flavorful Family Gets Bigger & Better

Proximity Malt, 08-25-2023

Producing a full range of premium specialty malts—from base to black, and a wide selection of crystals, in between—is central to Proximity’s mission as a leader in domestically produced, sustainable malt. Along with sourcing sustainable grains locally, our commitment to a resilient supply chain for our customers began with an investment in the most innovative malting and roasting technologies at our regional malthouses—Monte Vista, CO, and Laurel, DE.

In the hands of our experienced maltsters, our advanced roaster is the secret sauce for our portfolio of crystals, chocolates, and other specialties that provide US brewers with a much-needed domestic source of exquisitely crafted options.

The Continuous Coil Roaster

It sounds straightforward, but the devil is always in the details. And that’s where Proximity’s crystal malting process shines. The continuous coil roaster improves upon traditional drum roasters. It minimizes kernel damage, encourages batch uniformity and process consistency. The design allows us to work with a range of grains from barley to wheat and rye (so far!). You can learn more about the continuous coil roaster here.

Proximity Malt’s ever-growing family of Crystal Malts ranges from C-15 to C-150 and includes Crystal Wheat and Crystal Rye. We’re excited to add two new crystals to our portfolio – C-20 and C-45.

But before we get into the products, let’s take a moment to define crystal malts and the crystallization process that begins after raw barley’s germination in the malthouse.

Crystal Malting, Defined

Base malts such as pale, pale ale, and even Munich and Vienna are made by soaking and germinating grains and then kilning them. Kilning stops the seed growth and the transformation of starches to extractable sugars begins. To crystalize malt, the maltster transfers germinated grains directly from the germination tank to the roaster. Here, the germinated endosperms of the un-kilned grain are effectively ‘mashed’ inside the hull. The moist grain is heated to mash temperature to convert starches to sugars before being raised to roasting temperatures. Once in the roaster, varying degrees of heat and time create targeted colors and flavors. The grain then cools, the sugars harden, and you have that crystalline texture known as crystal malt.

Using advanced controls over time, temperature, airflow and moisture in the pre-roasting and roasting allows the pros to finesse these two fundamental sensory factors (color and flavor). They are at the heart of crystal malts. Mastering it, some would say, is more art than science.

Family of Crystals

Here is a sampling of the Proximity Malt offerings. (You’ll note on the photos that the whole kernel husk remains as light as base malt, while the powdered version conveys the Crystal color level. That’s due to the gentle nature of our roasting technology—it crystallizes the inside, with less deterioration or damage to the hull)

We adhere to malt color descriptions using degrees Lovibond as opposed to SRM or EBC methodology (if you wish to see the conversion from EBC to SRM and Lovibond, use this online calculator):

C-15  The lightest of our crystal malts, C-15 is intended to add depth and layered flavor complexity. At percentages up to 20%, this crystal malt adds golden color tones and candy-like sweetness with malty or light caramel undertones.  

C-20  One of our newbies, C-20, carries more caramel undertones than C-15, with less cane sugar. Brewers will also notice a small step-change in color when used in the same proportion as C-15.

C-45  Our other new crystal malt, this golden-toned malt compares well with an imported medium crystal, with increased toffee notes, and distinct caramel sweetness somewhat more pronounced than in the C60.

C-60  Best used at inclusion rates of 5-15%, this gem is excellent for malt-forward beers—contributing a distinct caramel-toffee sweetness and rich red and gold color tones.

C-120  Some call it the workhorse of crystal malts because C-120 delivers color and flavor without dominating the grain bill: deep red color tones, dark caramel flavor with distinct burnt sugar notes, and modest raisin-like complexity.

C-150 At the top range of our crystals before the chocolates begin, C-150 is the author’s favorite crystal barley malt. When used at 5-15%, it provides a deep, complex red color and flavors that combine dark, tannin-filled fruits like figs, prunes, and raisins with a cocoa finish. Please give it a chew. It’s a delightful and intense surprise to the palette each time.

The Promise of Proximity Crystals

Proximity Malt is all about providing brewers with a domestic source for a complete portfolio of crystals and other specialties. Quality matters. So we use only premium two row malting barley varieties and radically innovative roasting technology that maintains kernel integrity, uniformity, and batch consistency. We think our crystals are world-class, but please – contact your sales representative to get samples—and compare for yourself!



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