Depending on where you are the terms Crystal and Caramel can be used interchangeably. Crystal malts are steepable and they're generally used to add sweetness and color to both extract and all-grain brews. As a general rule, the lighter-colored crystal malts (10L) are more strictly 'sweet', while darker crystal malts (up to 120L) can add some roastiness or nuttiness in addition to sweetness.
Crystal malts are made from barley grain in a process similar to that of making pale malts. As with pale malts, the grains are steeped and germinated. Unlike pale malts, crystal malts are then stewed — they are heated in a closed system that doesn’t allow moisture to escape. As a result, the starch interiors of the barley grains are broken into sugars by amylase enzymes in the barley. After stewing, the grains are kilned. Kilning dries the grain, darkens the husk and caramelizes some sugar inside.
Crystal and Caramel malts are extremely similar, and for all intents-and-purposes, they can be used interchangeably. The largest difference is that crystal malt is roasted, while caramel malt can be either roasted or kilned. The two methods are not the same, and the result is a slight difference in taste.
Beer Styles Using: Mild Ales, Brown Ales, IPAs
Commercial Examples: Viking Malt Caramel 50, Breiss Caramel 20L, Great Western Crystal 75L, Fawcett English Medium Crystal Malt, Simpsons English Crystal Light Malt
Caramel/Crystal Malt Brewing Values
These are the common ranges that we've seen with Caramel/Crystal Malt over the years. Each manufacturer can have slightly different qualities, so these ranges are based on a combination and average.
SRM is a scale for measuring the color intensity of a beer. Low SRM values indicate a pale straw color while higher values mean the style should have a darker color. Learn more »
(8 - 82° Lovibond)
Diastatic power (DP) is a measurement of a malted grain's enzymes, which are responsible for converting the grain's starches into sugar during mashing.
PPG measures the maximum starting gravity (SG) of the fermentable in points/pound/gallon. This can differ based on your mash efficiency and the amount of wort collected.
Certain grains and adjuncts should only be used below a maximum percentage of the grain bill. Exceeding this can cause off flavors or poor mash efficiency.
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